The 2012 Summer Research Institute at the Florida Mental Health Research Institute (SRI@FMHI) was my introduction to the research process. The most exciting thing about this experience was the opportunity to develop my own research study. I really had to spend time thinking about what I was interested in researching. I thought about my past experiences and I realized I was interested in how people access health care services and how certain barriers prevent people from gaining adequate care.
What I enjoyed most about my project, Barriers to Seeking Help for Mental Health Issues in Women Ages 22 – 64, was the opportunity to speak with women about their mental health issues, hiding symptoms and difficulties accessing care. I remember spending a lot of time at the homeless facility where I recruited one group of participants. Many of the women were uncomfortable sharing their mental health diagnosis or needed help filling out the questionnaire, so I talked with them and waited patiently until they were ready to share. After completing the questionnaire, one woman thanked me. I thought she was referring to the compensation, but then she said, "It’s just nice to know that someone is asking these questions." Another woman from my University sample group commented that she learned so much about herself by participating in my study. I was so pleased to hear comments like these.