Makenzie Peterson, the Wellness Program Director at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, spoke to the Special Topics class on “Addressing Mental Health in Public Health”. Makenzie possess an impressive number of certificates and trainings (Reproductive Loss and Abortion Doula Training, Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board Training, and Opioid Overdose Prevention Educator, to name a few) that exemplify her devotion and passion in all forms and sectors of mental health. Makenzie discussed her encounters throughout her life as she moved away from rural Alaska to more populated areas for college, graduate school, and finally into the career field. All of which played an integral role in directing her to become the health and wellness counselor, and enthusiast, she is today.
Makenzie emphasized the importance and necessity of recognizing mental health illnesses early. She discussed how early intervention has great potential in reducing the severity of an illness and stressed the importance of identifying the signs and symptoms of mental illness. She discussed the barriers in accessing mental health services, the startling and saddening stigma surrounding mental health illnesses in specific communities and cultures, as well as the impacts of mental health in various institutions that contradict the fundamental principles surrounding public health. Her last words to the class encompassed the role, we, as future public health professionals, have in tearing down these barriers and destigmatizing mental health in our society, and around the world.
This expose was written by Myranda Baumgartner, a current Master of Public Health Student concentrating in Infectious Disease Epidemiology at Cornell University. Originally from Texas, she recently graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in General Biology from Austin College, where she gained a variety of research experiences and was a member of the Austin College Women’s Soccer team. Myranda is interested in working in PHEP (Public Health Emergency Preparedness) and aiding in zoonotic disease related outbreaks and natural disaster responses.