Cynthia Mackey, Andrea Camacho, Arizona State University, School of Social Work, Council on Social Work Education, Minority Fellows

Fellowship will train students to work with those at risk for mental health disorders, substance abuse among underrepresented, underserved groups

Two School of Social Work (SSW) students will train to work with members of underrepresented and underserved groups with mental health and/or substance abuse disorders -- or those who are at risk for them -- as new recipients of a prestigious fellowship.

Andrea Camacho, a second-year MSW student, and Cynthia Mackey, a second-year social work doctoral student, have been selected as 2020-2021 Minority Fellows by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The CSWE’s prestigious Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) works with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to increase the number of trained professionals.

MFP offers two programs, one for master’s students and one for doctoral students. The fellowship includes a scholarship and professional training for students who want to go into practice in racially and ethnically diverse populations in the mental health and/or substance use fields. 

“Since I was a young teenager, I recognized the stigma associated with seeking mental health care among BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities,” Mackey said in an email. “It’s an issue that exists not only in my community but within my own family as well, so it’s not an issue I can ignore.” 

Mackey, a graduate research assistant at ASU's Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy, has a passion for improving access to mental health for women of color with a history of criminal justice involvement.

Camacho, too, is passionate about mental health and substance abuse issues.

“So to be able to have extra training and support, and obviously financial support, is always good,” Camacho said. 

Camacho works at the Arizona State Hospital with patients who struggle with substance use, in addition to severe mental illness. She specifically focuses on Latinx populations by providing services in Spanish, working with youth, adults and families.

Camacho said she is looking forward to networking and collaborating with people in both the CSWE and SAMHSA organizations and learning from them. “I’m really excited to have professional training because it is run by two very prestigious organizations,” she said. 

She said she’s also eager to connect with others from all over the country in both the collegiate and professional worlds who share the same passion for social work, social justice and mental health. 

Similarly, Mackey said she is excited to meet mentors across North America who are conducting similar research.

In addition to receiving training and scholarships, the master’s MFP fellows commit to working in the mental health or substance abuse field for two years after graduation.

Camacho said she hopes to stay at the state hospital and continue working with patients experiencing mental health and substance use issues. She also plans to obtain her Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) certifications. 

Written by Susan Wong, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions marketing communications. Photo: Cynthia Mackey, left and Andrea Camacho, right, are ASU’s 2020-2021 Council on Social Work Education Minority Fellows. Photos courtesy of Cynthia Mackey and Andrea Camacho.