Children's Mental Health Network Profile
"It is everything I wish I would have had in graduate school!”
Scott Bryant Comstock, President and CEO of the Children’s Mental Health Network (CMHNetwork) provides practicum and field placement opportunities for several graduate programs including the University of South Florida’s Child & Adolescent Behavioral Health (CABH) Master’s Program. The CMHNetwork, which promotes and advocates for the availability and effectiveness of high-quality services for children with mental health needs and their families, is an excellent match for the CABH program.
“When working with students, my goal is to help them feel and experience real-life situations,” said Bryant-Comstock. “If they are going to do policy work, they need to know what that means. I like to help them learn to ask the right questions while talking to a variety of individuals including clinicians, researchers and a cross section of people and agencies working with children and families. They even get to talk to lawyers representing real families with children in the system. Where else are you going to get that real-life experience?”
One of Scott’s current student placements is CABH student Aniya Bess-Rosa. Through her previous work experience in schools and shelters, Aniya discovered her passion for working with disadvantaged youth. She is now assessing the impact of recent immigration reform efforts on the mental health of children, youth, and families.
“Scott was able to connect me with some great individuals who had first-hand experience working with immigrant families and children who have experienced trauma,” said Aniya. “The interviews were a great way to ask specific questions. They also helped me narrow my focus for my field experience topic. At the start of the semester and even towards mid-semester, I didn't know where to begin for my final project. However, after the interviews, I was able to narrow down the topic and focus my efforts within the field experience on that topic.”
Scott also introduced Aniya to Politico Pro, a website that provides the latest on federal and state news, laws and bills, and up to date progress related to her topic.
“We are able to provide access to our professional search resources and great cutting-edge tools,” added Bryant-Comstock. “With that, interns help us by providing articles for our network readers while teasing out advocacy positions.”
In 2018, Scott also offered an intern opportunity for CABH student Rachel Lettieri. She is passionate about influencing change and advocating for policy decisions in favor of children’s mental health. During her internship with the Children’s Mental Health Network, Rachel is conducting a 50-state scan of existing and proposed legislation designed to strengthen quality standards for residential care programs. In addition, Rachel assisted the Children’s Mental Health Network in building an online platform where families in crisis can receive appropriate and pertinent information to help guide their decision-making about treatment options for their child.
“Ultimately, it’s about interns getting to be exposed to the real world,” said Bryant-Comstock. “They hear passion in people’s voices. They also hear their pain and see the many complexities. It is everything I wish I would have had in graduate school!”