Kathryn Anderson

Submitted 2022-06-02

Following my graduation, it took me a few years to determine what career I would like to pursue. The military pressures made it very difficult for finding opportunities. I felt embarrassed that my years of hard work in school seemed to be for nothing as I had frequent moves with my military spouse, so I could only find temporary nannying and tutoring positions. Mental health problems were not regarded as actual diagnoses growing up in my childhood, so I blamed myself for not getting out of bed many mornings. I endured several stressful years of frequent moves, sickness, and career stagnation before finally correlating past trauma and ongoing stress from an emotionally abusive childhood to my severe eczema reactions on my arms, neck, cheeks, eyes, and lips. After two years of doctor’s visits and medication dependency, I wonder if early intervention for my mental health could have spared this pain. This time brought me to my lowest point of depression. I barely had the energy to advocate for myself, and I would often not get the support I needed from the providers I saw. During this time, I finally found a passion to help more with the underlying issues of mental health. It is not easily visible, but nearly everyone is close to someone struggling with conditions of anxiety or depression. This challenging time in my life gave me perspective and motivated me to do something more in this field.

I was given a chance to work at NeuroStim TMS (an outpatient clinic) as a TMS Technician, and I found my independence, passion, and a genuine love for patient care for those suffering from anxiety and depression. My own suffering has allowed me to see people through the lens of my darkest days and the importance of mental health. This time away from school has been instrumental in preparing me for higher-level education. Research and personal/patient experience convince me of the brain-body connection concerning holistic health. My passion for this topic motivates me to rise above my current station in the mental health field to become an advocate, educator, and provider. Within my city and county, there are Medically Underserved Areas and a Health Professional Shortage Area for mental health. I have confirmed current shortages by looking at open jobs in the county, talking to my patients, and asking my primary care physician about referral wait times for mental health providers.

Early intervention is necessary to achieve full recovery without lingering symptoms. The lack of access to care is one significant factor in the rampant homelessness within my college town of Seattle. I feel compelled to serve at-risk youth, young adults and military families. I am humbled and excited that I can potentially be part of that change in children’s lives by being an advocate as a Mental Health Nurse after I graduate from Nursing school because early treatment can make all the difference in patients’ lives. Nursing is also so much more than working in a hospital. Nurses function as public health advocates and are trustworthy sources of information when it comes to preventative or self-care. I hope to be this for my community both locally and even online because so much misinformation can easily spread digitally. It is so important to spread scientific backed research so we can better support our own health or fight the next public health crisis. This Scholarship will help me fund my dream to contribute to this community that I am passionate about.

There has never been a more critical time for mental health providers to care for a society that is finally receptive to taking mental health needs seriously—facing unprecedented increases in depression and a reckoning for sexual assault survivors. As someone who can identify in both categories, when people seek guidance in this arena, I hope my background and work ethic will render me qualified and capable of meeting needs. I plan to feel confirmed in my path with a significant investment of my energy and time at University of Washington. I believe in starting my career as a Mental Health Nurse in a Health Professional Shortage Area here in Kitsap County with the help of scholarships helping me through school. With experience and entrepreneurial drive, I plan to start an independent practice focusing on populations I am most passionate about serving, which includes military families, the homeless, and victims of sexual and emotional abuse. Nursing also is very transferrable for future moves with my military spouse which is ultimately why it is the best fit for me.

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