People Who Care: Using social work to promote mental health and wellness
After Alex Negron graduated from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn. with a degree in psychology, she decided to continue her education by going to law school. So she took the LSAT and started the arduous and expensive process of applying to schools- one of which was Charlotte School of Law.
“I’ve always been a free spirit and not afraid of change,” she said. So when she was accepted, she decided to pack up and make the 11-hour move to the Queen City.
And although Negron fell in love with North Carolina, she quickly knew law school was not for her.
But she stuck it out for two semesters and in the summer of 2010 did an internship at the county courthouse in Gastonia. While there, Negron met many social workers assisting clients and was intrigued by their duties.
“I heard them talk about helping people in domestic violence and custody cases, and I realized this was what I was passionate about,” she said.
So shortly after, with encouragement from her boyfriend, she left law school, worked for a year and was accepted to UNC Charlotte’s master’s program in social work.
While getting her degree, Negron got plugged in with Monarch and began interning at the Davidson and Rowan Behavioral Health offices with Intensive In-Home Services (IHHS) and ACTT teams gaining experience working directly with children and adolescents in crisis situations.
“These are kids who are at risk of removal from their homes, have behavioral issues, were never taught to accept ‘no’ as an answer, or have boundary issues. You go into their homes, see them in their element and we can redirect behaviors and also help the parents,” she said. “I enjoy working with kids, they are sometimes harder to get to because they are not always able to effectively express their feelings, but I like the challenge.”
Negron noted that it was hard, but rewarding work.
“When a child starts to make progress, even if it’s a little thing like a parent saying ‘no’ and them using a coping skill, you feel like confetti is popping out of your head you are so excited,” she said.
During her time at Monarch, Negron also worked with the Rowan ACTT team to better understand the severe mentally ill population and how to provide help. Through this experience she began to understand more deeply the importance of mental health to overall health and well-being.
Negron explained that mental health plays into every part of our lives, if you’re not mentally healthy or stable it is hard to perform many basic tasks in life, which is why she knows she made the right decision to become a social worker.
“Social workers are there to advocate and promote systems that will help mental health in general though advocacy and therapy and be there for people in crisis situations,” she said. “Without good mental health it’s hard for someone to reach their goals. Person-centered agencies like Monarch, that offers service like ACTT and Intensive In-Home Services (IIHS), definitely help make our society more mentally healthy.”
Negron graduates on May 9 and plans to continue her journey in the mental health field coming onboard to work for Monarch as part of the Davidson County IIHS team.