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Rogers counselor shares her passion for mental health outside of work

01/18/18 02:47:pm

When someone is passionate about something, they tend to find ways to work it into all aspects of their life. That’s why Brittany Hawley, residential counselor at the Rogers Eating Disorder Center, and a recent graduate with bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sociology, knew exactly what topic to pick for her final project on social justice for her sociology class.

Brittany decided that she would create a video project that allowed people to share their mental health struggles with others.

“I have always had a passion for mental health,” Brittany says. “And since it’s not talked about enough, I decided to not only choose this topic but also the title: ‘It’s time to talk.’ I wanted to be able to raise awareness and also get people talking about this topic, in hopes that people would recognize how important this was, share their story, and ultimately that people would ask for help and support.”

When Brittany reached out to her friends and co-workers at her internships, she found herself with a surprising number of willing participants, who then reached out to their own friends as well. In total, 188 people were pictured holding signs in her video, telling the audience why it was time to talk about mental health.

“So many things surprised me,” Brittany says. “The number of people who took part, the things that people said about why it’s time to talk about mental illness, and the recognition that came afterwards. I won two awards that year—one was national; another was a school one—and was in Milwaukee Magazine. I think what was the most surprising was that others found it important.”

Brittany later released a sequel project titled “I Hear You: A Message to the Ones Who Struggle with Suicide.” She was able to get even more participants this time—a total of 235, which included several high-profile people such as Marsha Linehan, (founder of DBT), an NBC sports reporter in New England, and the president of Mental Health America.

Throughout her college career, Brittany kept busy and held a total of eight internships, each of which was related to mental health in one way or another, and delivered a commencement speech at graduation that briefly discussed mental health. Life after college looks to be much the same for Brittany, who plans to go through CBT Academy to become a behavioral specialist, is working on a new social media project for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, and teaches the Question, Persuade, and Refer steps to suicide prevention.

Even though Brittany has just graduated, she has plans to add even more to her plate, including the goal to eventually create one last project of recovery stories to finish her video series. She also hopes to eventually attend graduate school to earn a doctorate in clinical psychology. 

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