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13 Ways to Advocate for Mental Health Through Education—and 6 Inspiring Counseling Graduates Who Are Leading by Example

Written by 2U on Apr 25, 2022

Related content: Graduate Programs, Learner Stories, Executive Education, Courses, Impact and Outcomes

The American Counseling Association (ACA) has designated April as Counseling Awareness Month, a time to recognize counseling professionals who work across all practice settings to help people grow and thrive. These mental health advocates support all kinds of people at every stage of life, making a tremendous impact on the well-being of our nation’s population.

From the global pandemic to political and social unrest, the last two years have added unprecedented levels of stress and intensity to our everyday lives, making the expertise and human touch of counseling professionals more necessary than ever before. Read on for stories of six graduates from 2U-powered counseling programs who are using their education to make a difference in the lives of others—followed by several resources to help you forge your own path in the counseling field.

Dedicating Their Careers to Helping Others

Oftentimes, a formative personal experience plants the seed for a career, as was the case for Parfait Kanam, a graduate of the online Master of Arts in Counseling program from Northwestern University. Parfait realized that the mental health field lacked resources and awareness through his own experiences, sparking a career as a mental health counselor for children and teens.

Similarly, Mari Niiro, another Counseling@Northwestern graduate, decided to specialize in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) after benefiting from the modality in her own therapy treatment. She was inspired to start Mezamé, a counseling practice that’s increasing access to EMDR treatments. “I was shocked to realize there weren’t many agencies that put EMDR—an evidence-based and often transformative modality—at the forefront of their practice,” Mari says.

Many counselors—including three graduates of NYU’s online Master’s in Counseling programs—found out counseling was their calling later in life, just like Mari. While Marlene Wright and Kathryn Mullett were always interested in the field, Alexander Badillo didn't connect the dots until after completing a J.D. and starting a career in law.

“I finally discovered what it was that I was meant to do,” Alexander says. “Helping others has always been very important to me, and I searched long and hard before recognizing that perhaps I needed to leverage that into a vocation.”

For Perla Gonzalez Roman, a graduate of the online Master’s in School Counseling program from the University of Denver (DU), it was her own experience as an undocumented Latina student that motivated her to pursue school counseling as a career. Now she’s using her voice to advocate for the undocumented population—and improve future outcomes for students like her.

“Growing up, I felt like there wasn’t anyone in my schools who looked like me, who I could trust and confide in, so I want to change that for minority students,” Perla says. “Being an undocumented Latina student, I was in need of much support—but like many students, I was too shy and afraid of being shamed for needing help.”

Making a Difference Through Mental Health Education

Whether you’re ready to launch a career in counseling and mental health, or simply interested in learning more to enrich your everyday life, there are a number of 2U-powered programs at your disposal. In addition to the aforementioned offerings from Northwestern, NYU, and DU, here are some other degree programs and courses in mental health and counseling, accessible from anywhere.

Further a career in counseling or psychology—or chart a brand new path for yourself—with these online graduate programs:

  • The Master of Psychology programs in Psychology and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) from Pepperdine University give you a deeper understanding of human behavior, while the Clinical Psychology program prepares you for a career as a licensed therapist.
  • A Master of Behavior Analysis from Simmons University teaches you to apply advanced behavior analysis principles through mentorship and hands-on learning.
  • With a Master of Applied Behavior Analysis from the University of Dayton, you’ll learn how to identify individuals in need of intervention and equip them with strategies to thrive.

These executive education topics let you explore counseling and mental health topics at your own pace:

Gain continuing education credits for your professional life or dive into an area of personal interest with these mental health-related courses from universities around the world:

Celebrating Counseling Awareness Month

At a time when caring for mental health is more critical than ever before, we’re proud to recognize our country’s counseling professionals and the tremendous strides they’re making in the field. We hope you feel inspired to take the next step in building a healthier world for yourself and others.

Learn more about us.

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