Articles

Behavioral Health Scholarship: A pipeline of professionals enables youth mental health care

2023-24 Behavioral Health Scholarship Recipient: Sarah Freeman

Sarah Freeman is a student at Eastern Michigan University’s Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program and expected to graduate in 2025. She works as a clinician for children and families focused on improving children’s lives with a strong mental health focus. Freeman hopes to alleviate andprevent children’s suffering through clinical work addressing the impact of trauma on young children.

“Freeman is an exceptionally strong developing clinician with truly outstanding critical thinking and interpersonal skills,” said Dr. Erin Hunter, director, The University Center for The Child and Family at the University of Michigan. “She has a background in Public Health, Health Behavior, and Health Education which makes her uniquely situated to make even more meaningful contributions to mental health systems supporting Michigan’s youth and families.”

After graduation, Freeman plans to practice as a clinical psychologist and researcher in child mental health; developing and evaluating programs to improve children’s developmental paths through early intervention.

About the Behavioral Health Scholarship

At The Children’s Foundation, we believe all children should have equitable access to quality mental health care. Unfortunately, only about 4% of clinical psychologists specialize in child and adolescent mental health and Michigan is ranked fifth worst in the nation with 4 million people living in communities with a shortage of mental health professionals.

In response to this, in 2019, generous Trustees at The Children’s Foundation established the Behavioral Health Scholarship – a permanent endowed scholarship to address inadequacies in the mental health care system for kids in Michigan by creating a pipeline of professionals.

The goal of the Behavioral Health Scholarship is to help close this gap by supporting students enrolled at a public Michigan university or college pursuing a doctoral degree in a mental health field. The scholarship recipient has a specific focus on a practice serving children and adolescents in behavioral health with intent to practice in Michigan after graduation.

Applicants submit an online application along with transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and an essay that emphasizes their intended impact in the mental health field and experience serving children and adolescents, as well as their aspirations following graduation. The scholarship recipient receives a one-time $5,000 award.

Together, we can help improve the mental health of our youth. If you would like to collaborate with us to help address the youth mental health crisis through philanthropy, please contact George Westerman, director of please contact George Westerman, director, Donor Relations & Gift Planning, at gwesterman@yourchildrensfoundation.org.

Past Recipients:

2022-23 Behavioral Health Scholarship Recipient: Aaron Neal

Aaron Neal, enrolled in University of Michigan – Ann Arbor’s Clinical Psychology Program is expected to graduate in 2024. In addition to his work as a clinician, he enjoys conducting research with youth to understand the stressors impacting their mental health. His research explores how racism as a stressor impacts the mental health of Black youth. His hope is that it helps mental health providers better understand how Black youth experience racism and how it is impacting their mental health. Throughout Mr. Neal’s four years of clinical training, various opportunities have helped him grow into an efficacious child and adolescent psychologist; supporting youth during what they describe as some of the most challenging moments of their lives. 

2021-22 Behavioral Health Scholarship Recipient: Amanda Hicks

Amanda Hicks, enrolled in Eastern Michigan University’s Clinical Psychology Doctorate Program is expected to graduate in 2024. Hicks works with children and adolescents treating a wide range of clinical presentations including anxiety, depression, and trauma to promote emotion regulation and reduce problematic behaviors. Hicks’ clinical and research experiences have immersed her in issues of child and adolescent development and psychopathology and provided a fresh and valuable perspective that has created a drive to make change. Due to her diverse experiences, Hicks aspires to work with youth from impoverished communities suffering from a variety of concerns such as anxiety, depression, and trauma

2020-21 Behavioral Health Scholarship Recipient: Kristin Aho

Kristin Aho, enrolled in Eastern Michigan University’s Clinical Psychology Doctorate Program is expected to graduate in 2023. Aho currently manages the Self-regulation, Early Experience, and Development (SEED) Lab at Eastern Michigan University under the mentorship of Assistant Professor of Psychology, Dr. Jamie Lawler. There, she provides low-cost services to families without medical insurance or who are otherwise in need of low-cost care. Aho’s experience also includes suicide and crisis intervention and a practicum in inpatient pediatric psychiatry; each have encouraged her to pursue a career working with high-risk children and adolescents who struggle with multiple conditions – an area of work where others fear to tread.

Help us improve the health and wellness of more children and families.

You can help us reach more children and families by making a gift to The Children’s Foundation. Click here to make your gift.

Donor Story: For the Ginopolis family, philanthropy is a core value

Black History Month: Equity today to empower tomorrow’s leaders

Breakfast of Champions: A conversation about kids’ mental health

Sign up for our newsletter