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Preparing for a Career in Mental Health

Female counselor writing on a clipboard

Hadeel Bnyat

Working 12-hour shifts three days a week would be tough for anyone. Working those shifts in a hospital psychiatric unit during a pandemic might even cause someone to burn out.

But Integrated Behavioral Health student Hadeel Bnyat stuck with it. “I feel like I learned a lot about resilience, because I didn't have the opportunity to stay home and quarantine,” she says. “I had to kind of work in the front lines, so it was a good experience, and I feel like it taught me a lot.”

Following Her Passion

Hadeel saw three to four clients at a time as a mental health associate in the adult unit at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, mainly adults in critical need of psychiatric care. Now her shifts are down to eight hours, but she still sees a large demand for mental health services.

Hadeel Bnyat head shot

“I noticed just how much more people are in need of mental health help. We’re definitely seeing more volume in general, with people dealing with isolation and the lack of social contact.”

Hadeel has known she wanted to work in the addictions field ever since she took a psychology course in high school. “I wanted to know more about how people think,” she says, “to know why people do what they do.”

She earned her undergraduate degree in psychology and human development from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. She decided to go to graduate school right away to take advantage of the “hustling stage” she was in after completing her bachelor’s degree.

“I was nervous that if I didn't go to school right away that I would get distracted with work. Pursuing my education was my goal.” She took the summer off to move to Minnesota and never looked back.

Staying on Track

Hadeel Bnyat in front of a cornfield

Hadeel recently completed her first internship in the IBH program at an intensive outpatient treatment program for adolescents at St. John's hospital, where she became more interested in working with youth.

“A lot of them came from pretty traumatic backgrounds,” she says. “But teens are smart, and they know what they need to do for themselves. A lot of them have a history of getting in trouble with the law, and I think at that age, they have so much time to keep moving forward and build a better future for themselves. I think it was just fun being able to be part of that, helping them recover.”

Another population Hadeel is motivated to work with is refugee and immigrant families. “It's a huge interest of mine."

"Being able to provide culturally competent care is so important.”

Hadeel’s father is Syrian and her mother is Palestinian. “All my family are immigrants,” she continues. “I’m a first-generation American, but a lot of them grew up in war and just seeing how that affected their mental health has sparked that interest.”

Hadeel just passed her LADC (licensed alcohol and drug counselor) exam and is taking three classes this fall. She plans to graduate in May 2022. “I’m excited about what's to come.”

Memorable Classes

Hadeel’s Pro Tips for Students

  • If you want to do an internship, work, and go to school at the same time, be prepared for the challenge. Have a backup plan in case you can’t do all three.
  • Set time aside to do the work and check your progress. 
  • Reach out to professors; they want to help!
  • Make time to have fun!

Hadeel is a recipient of the CCAPS Graduate Programs Scholarship.