Division of Behavioral Health


Student Internship Opportunities


The Division of Behavioral Health is one of the core leadership development programs of the Morehouse School of Medicine’s Satcher Health Leadership Institute (SHLI). The goal of the SHLI is to develop a diverse group of public health leaders, foster and support leadership strategies, and influence policies and practices toward the reduction and ultimate elimination of disparities in health with the focus on neglected diseases and underserved populations, while giving priority to health promotion and disease prevention. The mission of the Division of Behavioral Health is to reduce and ultimately eliminate disparities in behavioral health, including mental health, substance abuse and developmental disabilities. We achieve our mission through training and development of existing and emerging leaders, empowering and supporting community leadership, and providing leadership to inform meaningful and effective policy and practice in Behavioral Health. Our current programs include:


  • Smart and Secure Children


  • The Integrated Care Practice Change and Quality Improvement


About Our Student Internships:


Goal: Our internship assignments are designed in partnership with the student to ensure they have a practical public health/behavioral health experience as they assist programs and research that are focused on reducing and ultimately eliminating health disparities.


Eligibility: Undergraduate or graduate students, preferably enrolled in behavioral health, public health, policy studies, statistics, information technology or related fields.


Scope of Work: A scope of work will be discussed and developed by each student in partnership with program manager and project director based on division need. Each work plan will involve assistance with project tasks as well as a leadership development component.


Time Commitment: Internships typically last 8-10 weeks, requiring a minimum of 10 hours per week, not to exceed 20 hours in one week. Flexibility around classes, exams and holidays can be arranged.


Benefits: Student internships are unpaid opportunities where student interns are invited to attend two internal leadership development sessions; volunteer at community events; assist in hands-on community-based participatory research and create a presentation of their experiences.


Questions?  If interested, please contact Ayanna Jackson at shlibehavioralhealth@msm.edu or 404-756-8961.


Description of Core Programs:


1)    Smart and Secure Children (SSC) Parent Leadership Initiatives:

SHLI/MSM developed a unique parent leadership model, designed with and for members of disparate targeted communities, as a framework to reduce and eliminate health inequities in early childhood.  The focus of this grant was to develop vulnerable parents as leaders who can learn and lead in the development of their children and their peers.  Evaluation of this project indicated increased mental health, competency, confidence, and parenting knowledge and skills among participants, and reduced social isolation. 


We are currently funded to conduct SSC programs as a part of: 


- Our P20 research grant is funded through the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) to determine the extent to which SSC impact child outcomes.  This research focuses on measuring the parents’ application of SSC at home and their knowledge of age appropriate developmental milestones of children 0-5 years old, and the impact of their applied parenting on their children’ emotional wellbeing. The P20 also measures beyond parenting knowledge, learned skills and leadership to determine how SSC application impacts child’s mental health, obesity and school readiness.  


- Our U54 grant looks at closing the disparity gaps in early childhood through meaningful policies, programs and practices. It proposes to engage parents, not only as interventionists but to effectively inform and influence policy formation, change and help to implement meaningful and sustainable programs and practices that seek to progressively reduce inequities in early childhood development. The grant requires us to establish a Trans disciplinary Collaborative Center to assess and improve state policies, programs and practices in 13 States.  


- Our R24 grant/ Community Based Participatory Research on Prevention and Family Health


This project explores the use of ‘parents/caregivers as viable ‘Family health workers’ who can be trained with evidence based practices to promote preventative health care in their homes. The program uses a Community Based Participatory Research approach to conduct both needs and assets based assessment whereby communities will identify their priority preventable childhood diseases for necessary interventions.


2)    The Integrated Care Practice Change and Quality Improvement Initiative:

The SHLI Division of Behavioral Health is in partnership with 6 community health centers [both community primary health and community mental health] namely: Grady Health System (Main Hospital and Neighborhood Clinics); St. Joseph’s Mercy Care; Cobb County Community Service Board; McCintosh Trail Community Service Board; Asa G. Yancey Community health Center; and  Fulton County North Annex Community Health Clinic, in creating practice changes in their clinical settings to integrate behavioral health [i.e. mental health and substance use disorders] and primary health as they serve people with co-morbid health conditions. The overarching goal is to reduce disparities and advance health equity through an integrative approach that builds capacity among health care professionals, communities, and developing health leaders.