Hello, my name is Danielle Smart, and I am very excited to be working with NAMI Ohio as an intern to complete my master’s of social work at The Ohio State University. I received my bachelor’s of social work, with a minor in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, from The Ohio State University. My professional experience includes over six years of providing direct services to clients. I started my career working for a non-profit community mental health center to provide behavioral health services and case management to adults living with severe mental illness, predominately on the west side of Columbus. In my current role, I provide medical case management to people living with HIV, with a specific focus on supporting the LGBTQ+ communities through linking clients with medical services and community resources. I feel that my experiences providing direct services to clients in central Ohio has given me the knowledge, insight, and skills to be a passionate advocate for people living with mental illness.
One of the core values of social work is the pursuit of social justice; specifically, to pursue social change, particularly with and on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people. I feel like NAMI Ohio’s mission aligns directly with this belief, and their commitment to advocating for the needs of people living with mental illness is a service that our communities cannot do without.
I believe that one of the most important roles a social worker can play in the community is as an agent for change. It is vitally important that the people with mental illness living in our communities can access the services that they need. Furthermore, it is equally as important that the professionals providing those services have the support, resources, and visibility that they need to provide the best care possible to their clients. I feel that NAMI Ohio is able to do both, which is the most advantageous way to create sustainable and meaningful change.
I am incredibly excited and grateful for this opportunity to work with NAMI Ohio, to apply what I have learned from my experiences in direct client care to a cause that provides a pathway to systemic changes. I feel like one of the last frontiers for social workers is to be more involved on a macro level, whether that be lobbying, creating policy, or running for political office. NAMI Ohio is an amazing organization that has the ability to take the experiences of those on the front lines of providing mental health care and transforming those experiences into meaningful change that is both lasting and far-reaching.
I am looking forward to not only working on current NAMI Ohio projects but for the incredible amount of knowledge that I will be able to gain to better serve my community in the future.