These are the faces of Rhode Island’s future mental health clinicians.
RIC students Erinn Reilly and Stephanie Centeio have been named the first recipients of the Mental Health Association of Rhode Island’s (MHARI’s) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Behavioral Healthcare Internship Stipend. Each will receive an award of $7,500.
This program is a partnership between MHARI, the United Way and Rhode Island College to help increase the availability of mental health providers from diverse backgrounds practicing in Rhode Island.
A clinical mental health counseling major, Reilly says, “I am honored to be a recipient of the MHARI Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Internship Stipend. I chose to become a clinical mental health counselor because I hoped to provide an equitable and safe therapeutic environment. Despite the stigma it received in my community, I was fortunate to have access to mental health care as it enhanced my personal development and my ability to cope with the world around me. As a clinician-in-training, I use my privileges to break barriers to care, de-colonize the therapeutic space and create a therapeutic relationship based on cultural humility. I hope to represent identities that are typically marginalized from engaging in therapy. This stipend secures my ability to graduate and to serve my diverse and unique client population.”
Centeio, a graduate student in social work, also shares, “I have always been taught to work hard for everything I want and that, in return, things will fall into place. Receiving this award has truly made that a reality for me. Growing up, I didn’t have many role models to look up to. My family grew up in poverty and migrated from another country. Culturally, it was not appropriate to seek help outside of the family. I spent much of my days suffering in silence with my own anxiety and depression. I went against the grain by entering this field and it was the best decision of my life. I chose this field for a few reasons. The first is to impact the lives of others in a positive way. The second is to raise awareness about the stigma around mental health and substance use. The final is to acknowledge that the systems we operate in are broken and require improvement. I am happy to be part of the process in creating positive change.”