James Terhune ’15, who graduated with a degree in sociology from Colorado College, has received a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship to study in London, where he will work toward a master’s degree in clinical mental health sciences in the Division of Psychiatry at University College London.
The unique aspect of the year-long program is its multidisciplinary approach to the study of mental health, Terhune says. “Not only do they teach you about the psychological, psychiatric, and biological bases of mental health, but they also place this within social and public health contexts. This is very important to me because my background in sociology pushes me to examine problems from a broader, systemic perspective. I think that this program uniquely prepares me to work with the policies, systems of delivery, and other structural aspects that influence mental health care in this country.”
Terhune plans to study the mental health integration efforts in the U.K. and examine their applicability in the United States. “Mental health integration refers to making our physical and mental healthcare systems work more closely together to provide patients with more coordinated and comprehensive care rather than having these two systems exist in separate silos,” he says. “Very specifically, I want to study primary care integration which involves having mental health practitioners on staff at primary care offices.”
Terhune discovered sociology at CC and was attracted to its focus of solving systemic and structural issues rather than putting out fires one by one. Says Terhune, “The sociologist thinks ‘Although this is the way we run this system and this is how things have always been done in our society, what happens if we take a step back, deconstruct that social institution or norm, and analyze if there is a better way to do it?’ I found this way of looking at the world and its biggest problems incredibly engaging and productive and decided to dive in head first with a major in sociology.”
That decision led him to two study abroad experiences — one in Havana and the other in Amsterdam — where he learned about very different countries’ systems for healthcare, education, criminal justice, social welfare, and economics
“These experiences instilled in me a desire to continually explore how we can apply the lessons of other countries to our own,” he says.