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Feb
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Newman Lecture: Police and Racial Bias: Lessons from the Lab for the Street
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BSW Cording & MSW Hooding

Improving Mental Health Services

The inaugural Integrated Behavioral Health Symposium was held Monday, Feb. 12 at the USC Alumni Center. Students, faculty, professionals and community partners gathered to listen to speakers and a panel of practice and policy community members. The event was sponsored by the College of Social Work and co-sponsored by the Arnold School of Public Health, the School of Medicine Columbia, the School of Medicine Greenville, the College of Pharmacy and the College of Nursing.Small Group Discussion 1 website

Keynote speaker Joseph Parks, MD, Medical Director for the National Council for Behavioral Health, delivered his talk, Integrating Primary Care and Behavioral Health Care: How Far We've Come. He discussed topics such as, rearranging how hospitals and mental health clinics deliver care and changing the way medical professionals work together. Meera Narasimhan, chair of the neuropsychiatry and behavioral science department at the School of Medicine Columbia, spoke on using telepsychiatry in behavioral health. The innovative method allows practitioners to address healthcare needs throughout the state, especially in rural areas. College of Social Work Professor Christina Andrews also addressed current implementations and future plans for incorporating and advancing integrated behavioral health throughout South Carolina. 

The symposium featured a panel of practice and policy community members from statewide social service organizations and governmental departments. The panel consisted of Sara Goldsby, director of the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services; Pete Liggett, deputy director of the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services; Rick Foster, senior adviser to the South Carolina Hospital Association; Katherine Plunkett, manager of clinical quality improvment of the South Carolina Primary Health Care Association; and John Magill, director of the South Carolina Department of Mental Health.

Following the speakers, each table participated in a small group activity to create and present action steps. The symposium concluded with a reception, poster presentation and awards. Ryan Orland, a student at the School of Medicine Columbia, received the award for best poster.

Student Spotlight
Morgan Larch, BSW StudentMorgan Larch edited online

Senior Morgan Larch did not begin her collegiate studies at the University of South Carolina, but this spring she will graduate with a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree from the College of Social Work. Her passion for helping others has become a call to action. Larch and fellow BSW student Mary Wilder are currently collecting socks, gloves, scarfs, clothes and toiletry items for Columbia’s homeless.

You can leave items in the donation box across from the second-floor restrooms in Hamilton College, or make a monetary donation. Click here to watch ABC 6 Columbia’s story on the Spread the Warmth Winter Clothing Drive.  

Why did you choose the USC College of Social Work?

I started at Converse College in Spartanburg, SC, where I wanted to help people but did not want to be a teacher. I researched different majors and schools in the area and found social work, but the only thing I knew about it was paperwork. It did not seem interesting to me, but the more I researched, the more I realized it might be a good opportunity for me. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but it has become something I love.

What do you enjoy most about the College of Social Work?

I enjoy my cohort. We share the same classes, successes and frustrations and learn from each other. For example, I have a lot of support and backing from my cohort with the clothing drive. They also receive the same support for their events. I did not realize there were so many people like me, but it’s a great give-and-take relationship.

Where are you completing field education work?

I’m currently at Palmetto Health Richland Springs, a psychiatric and substance abuse facility in Columbia. When you do field education work, you apply what you learned and realize the importance of classroom education. Everything I learned from my intro and junior classes came together. I did not realize this until I started my field education.

What is one skill anyone interested in social work career should possess?

The skill I have learned over the past few years is empathy. Even if you have not been in the same situation as someone else, chances are you have had similar feelings, and you can draw on those experiences when talking with others. Social work is based on connections and relationships. These are essential when working with clients, and I have found empathy is a great relationship builder.

What advice would you give future social work students?

Social workers do not always get the appreciation, which is fine, because that is not what we are seeking. But working behind the scenes is important, which a lot of people do not realize. Whether you want to start your social work journey in service learning or volunteering, there are different social work avenues, such as research and clinical settings. It is not just a linear path, but several different directions where you can take your career.

What are you plans after graduation?

I plan to earn my Master of Social Work (MSW) at USC though the Advanced Standing Program. That was part of the reason why I chose USC. It was appealing to me because I can receive my degree in 11 months. I like how the BSW curriculum prepares you for the MSW program and the field education work continues. It will be intensive, but I am excited and prepared. 

Alumni Spotlight

Marc Himes, ’01 MSWMarc Himes edited

Marc Himes is the program manager for the South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families. The Columbia-based organization is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System and supports statewide fatherhood programs serving fathers and families. He is also a current MSW field instructor.

The South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families produced, “Facing Early Fatherhood,” a documentary into the lives of three young men who became fathers resulting from an unintended pregnancy. A public screening of the documentary was held on Jan. 11 at the Richland Library Sandhills.

How did the South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families develop the idea for producing the documentary?

The purpose of the documentary is to bring more awareness and showcase the issue of young fathers, including their needs and challenges. We identified three young men in our program, two from our Horry County program, A Father’s Place, and another participating in our Midlands Fatherhood Coalition. We tracked the good, bad and ugly of their lives over a period of about 10 months.

What other programs by the center have been offered to bring awareness to young fathers?

We hosted statewide public forums, “What Young Fathers Need,” which were panels with our young men and the challenges they face. In addition, we have done poverty simulations, created a resource webpage for young fathers, www.youngfatherhood.com, and currently developing a curriculum called, “Realty Check,” to help young men make wise decisions regarding having children.

How did the College of Social Work help prepare you for your career?

Social work gave me a broader perspective to do more from a community and organizational standpoint. It was very beneficial to learn how organizations work and provide services, since my goal was to oversee programs.

How satisfying is it for you to work with MSW students as a field instructor?

I like to be a resource and help students overcome some of the same challenges I experienced. I have worked with students for most of my career, from low-income first-generation students to more traditional roles, such as career development at the Darla Moore School of Business. Helping students is my passion, and it’s great to give them practical exposure to the workforce, including issues they may experience in a full-time position.  

What advice would you give someone studying or considering a career in social work?

Keep your options open. Students may come in with preconceived notions about what they will be doing or want to do. For example, a student may have a field placement in one area, and find it is not what they enjoy, or they might be exposed to an area they did not previously consider. It is hard to see the big picture, especially for someone coming straight from undergrad without as many life experiences, but keeping an open mind and learning from every experience will help carve out a career. 

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