Gabrielle Ferrara interned at Suicide Prevention New York in Spring 2020, working on New York State initiatives for suicide prevention for youth and young adults.
“For many years, mental health has been viewed as not as important as physical illness because you cannot see the illness or injury. I believe mental health is extremely important because it influences our quality of life. Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing more advertisements and posts on social media about how important it is to time take care of ourselves— and that’s amazing, but I think we should be doing this all the time! We should be taking time to ourselves when we are stressed out and just need a second to breathe.
For my internship this spring, I worked with a lovely group of people at Suicide Prevention of New York (SPCNY) who really care about their work. I conducted focus groups with student athletes at the University at Albany. This study aimed to understand unique stressors that impact mental health and explore help-seeking behaviors, access to, and utilization of mental health services and resources among student athletes.
It was really interesting to be able to hear directly from the student athletes about unique environmental stressors that impact their mental health in addition to combating academic stressors. These focus groups provided actionable recommendations that UAlbany can implement to better serve their students due to the detailed and extensive discussions that took place.
My mentor and the director of SPCNY were really influential throughout my internship. I was given a lot of really great opportunities that help me grow professionally as well as help SPCNY efforts. I was able to expand my knowledge base by attending meetings that were optional for me, too, or attending webinars that didn’t exactly relate to my projects but still could be useful. I am lucky to have had a mentor who really wanted me to get the most out of my experience.
This internship made a tremendous impact on my future career goals and plans. I have always been interested in a career with mental health, but this internship really solidified that for me. I loved working on my various projects in this internship because I really cared about the work I was doing. I really hope that I will be a part of future efforts to make mental health just as important as physical health!
I enjoyed my time with SPCNY tremendously and could not have asked for a better experience.”