Student Spotlight: How did Sam Stern Address Physical and Mental Health Care in Workplace Settings?

#UMNMCH student Sam Stern (MPH 2nd year) wrote this reflection on how his deployment with the Minnesota Health Action Group in the Fall of 2019 contributed to his career in MCH.

My deployment with the Minnesota Health Action Group was an extremely valuable experience that broadened my knowledge on non-profit health program development. As someone whose experience in public health is mainly direct- service in nature, it was awesome to learn about the behind the scenes work that goes into a large-scale public health intervention. 

The Minnesota Health Action Group is a coalition of healthcare buyers dedicated to uniting employers on common issues surrounding healthcare accessibility, availability, and deliverability. I specifically worked with the Action Group’s Mental Health Guiding Coalition to aid in their Patient-Centered Outcome Research Institute (PICORI) Awarded research. The Mental Health Guiding Coalition focuses on closing the gap in physical and mental health care within workplace settings as to address the astonishing depression remission rate seen among employees in Minnesota. My role was to assist in developing potential research topics and gathering information on stakeholders needed to support research design and implementation. 

Additionally, I had the opportunity to be an active member of coalition advocacy team meetings and present research options to the team. By the end of my time with the coalition, three potential research topics were formulated and presented to the advocacy team including best practices research for high performing mental and behavioral health clinics, general workforce practices, barriers, and support research, and a targeted workplace intervention assessment. 

Although my deployment wasn’t directly related to MCH, it widened the scope of my graduate school career. More specifically, it reminded me that healthcare for families is often tied to caregiver employment. As such, I believe that advocating for adequate access to mental healthcare acquired through employers is an important part of supporting the health and well-being of children and families. I plan to utilize all of the knowledge gained from my deployment in future projects to better frame problems in the context of barriers associated with employer-based healthcare. 

Unfortunately, after 30 years, the Minnesota Health Action Group has dissolved due to COVID-19.

Sam is a second year MCH MPH student also pursuing a minor in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health. His background includes a B.S. in biology and minor in public health from Indiana University. He recently accepted a position as an Intern for Ramsey County in their Family Health Division where he will be assisting public health nurses in the Health Families America Home Visiting Program. In his spare time he likes to play tennis, hangout with friends, go camping, and play trivia. Sam hopes to establish a career in health education or communication focused on early childhood development and promoting sensitive and nurturing child-rearing environments.

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