Past FUTURE to Present: Laura Schoonover Uses Talent to Raise Awareness About Mental Illness

It’s no secret that our associates are amazing and talented and Netsmart Junior Graphic Designer Laura Schoonover is no exception. From her early days as a Netsmart FUTURE (our version of an intern) to her current role, Laura has been able to put her artistic skills to good use. Adding that to her desire to help others, she has created a meaningful chalk mural about the significance of Mental Health First Aid training.

After graduating from college, Laura turned down three job offers and chose to participate in Netsmart’s FUTURES summer internship program, which provides participants real-life, hands-on experience in business and technology. She says she enjoyed the opportunity to work on active projects in the company and was able to jump in feet first into the Netsmart family. Her transition from being a FUTURE to becoming a full-time associate was quick and easy, thanks to the relationships and experience she gained through the program.

As part of her continuing growth at Netsmart, Laura participated in training and became certified in Mental Health First Aid through the National Council for Behavioral Health. She was inspired to get certified because she knows that there are a lot of misconceptions about mental illness and wanted to learn more about how to approach those who may be suffering.laura-schoonover-chalk-drawing-fb-2-10-17

“I have a relative who struggles with mental illness and a friend who struggles with anxiety and anxious thoughts and feelings,” Laura said.  “I knew that there was more to mental illness than the stereotypes, and I wanted to learn more about how to make the most of my interactions with them without crossing any lines that could cause them to push themselves away from me.”

Netsmart likes to tell visual stories about healthcare and technology and Laura wanted to share her experience with others.  “I definitely wanted viewers to be able to look at this design and think about the signs and symptoms that stood out to me and affect so many people. I wanted them to recognize those symptoms and become interested in learning more about mental illness and what they can do to help those who are affected by it.”

Laura hopes that her creation creates awareness and thoughtfulness in others to keep an eye out for signs and symptoms of a mental health crisis. She also hopes that it inspires other associates to learn more about mental illness and to get certified in Mental Health First Aid.

By building a solid foundation through the FUTURES program, her incredible artistry and her commitment to growth by becoming Mental Health First Aid certified, Laura has provided all of us with a stunning reminder about our foundation of being cause connected and passionate about mental health support.

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