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People who grew up lacking or currently lack fundamental mental health care can find inspiration from people like Behavioral Health Counselor Corrinna Markland-Pickel, who truly care about helping those in need. We were able to ask Corrinna a few questions about her experiences she shared in the Circles of Life article recently featured in the Canton Chamber Courier.

Article author Carol Davis explains the Circle of Life as a “complex web of concentric circles leading us back to where our journeys originally began.” For Corrinna, her journey of becoming a mental health professional for our Canton location at North Central Behavioral Health Systems started here in Canton.

In the article, Corrinna discusses how her passion for helping clients remove barriers and discover their life potentials started when her mother, Dinah Markland, first introduced her to the value of social work through her volunteer experiences in soup kitchens.

After originally enrolling in college in the performing arts field, Corrinna still hadn’t figured out what she wanted to do. The birth of her daughter in June of 2014, however, gave her a greater sense of purpose, and she enrolled in the social work program at Western Illinois University (WIU). 

Had you always felt that you wanted to work in the mental health field with the influence of your mother’s work, or was it more influenced by the birth of your daughter?

“It’s hard to say at exactly what point I decided on social work. The work I watched my mom do for many years was definitely an influence. Also, growing up, my mom and I benefited from community programs to help support us-so I would say this was an influence as well.”

Before earning her degree in Social Work from WIU in May of 2017, Corrinna’s eyes were opened when she discovered numerous social services needs. These social service needs, according to the article, included homelessness, substance dependence, employment assistance, and access to mental health care.

When you discovered numerous social service needs, how did you react to these needs during your schooling? How do they motivate you as a counselor today in Canton?

“I experienced a mixed response after my recognition of my own community needs. I knew there were needs, sure, but I didn’t realize to what extent. I was very fortunate to grow up with housing and access to food and in a supportive family unit, even though we were low-income ourselves. And as an adult, I utilized Medicaid and WICC. So I was exposed to some needs, but not fully. When my eyes were really opened (through my volunteer duties), I was more motivated than anything. As a black woman, I know that injustice exists. And I spent a lot of time complaining about unfairness in society as a whole. I’ve had my own struggles with anxiety, depression, and trauma, but I was taught to take action. I spent a lot of time developing my own self-regard and awareness and recognized that I had the ability to help. I had access to quality education, I had a great support network, things that I learned the folks I was interacting with lacked. And since I had those strengths, I needed to use them.”

Corrinna started working at NCBHS in Canton in 2018 as a Mental Health Clinician, where she currently provides treatment for 90 individuals ranging from ages 5 to 70.

Working in the behavioral health and substance use field can be tough, as discussed in the article, because of the variety of disorders that our community faces. Canton is made up of many strong individuals, which is what makes Corrinna motivated to help out her community.

What makes you enjoy your work helping individuals in the community?

“The reward is more impactful to me than the stress, especially when a client shares their successes with me, I can recognize the worth of my work. When clients learn self-advocacy, develop greater self-esteem, recognize when to utilize the skills we practice, feel confident in acknowledging their trauma, build better interpersonal skills, are motivated to obtain employment, fight to do the work for themselves so their children can benefit and thrive; the list goes on. These are the things that keep me going and help me remember that even through the hard days, they keep showing up so I can too.”

Corrinna is currently working towards a Master’s Degree in Social Work through the University of Illinois. She plans to continue working as a Mental Health Clinician in the Canton community where she feels confident her children will benefit.

Read the full article in June’s Canton Chamber Courier here: