Junior supports well-being during internship

Nadia Reitmeyer ’24
Nadia Reitmeyer ’25 had a winternship with the National Association on Mental Illness. (Photo by Keith Nordstrom)

Nadia Reitmeyer ’25 gains experience at national mental illness association

Nadia Reitmeyer ’25 put her classroom knowledge to the test while interning with the National Association on Mental Illness (NAMI) in New Orleans, La.

A psychology major from New Orleans, Reitmeyer said the experience solidified her decision to become a therapist. As an intern during her winter break, she represented the organization at conventions and answered phone calls that required professionalism in high-intensity situations.

“The calls consisted of answering general questions about what NAMI had to offer, as well as helping the occasional caller who was going through a mental health crisis and called NAMI  to talk to someone,” she said.

While challenging, Reitmeyer said the work furthered her skill set. “Learning to be patient with someone who might be upset about something and takes it out on you is not only an extremely useful skill to have as a therapist, it is helpful in any situation where that may occur, so I am thankful that I learned how to handle those situations,” she said.

During the internship, Reitmeyer found herself recalling lessons from a Wheaton course that she took with Assistant Professor of Psychology Srijana Shrestha, who is the advisor of her major. The course included exposure to professional vocabulary, and it covered topics such as therapeutic interview methods (open-ended vs. structured questions) and the correct usage of these practices.

Reitmeyer said those discussions about professional practice help her to counsel distraught callers. The junior also credits Shrestha with helping her find the opportunity at NAMI. “She recommended that I reach out to NAMI. … She was very excited when I was approved for the internship. She also helped me with my résumé and made sure I went to the Filene Center to get further help with searching.”

During winter break, Wheaton students engage in experiential learning opportunities that are funded through a variety of sources that fulfill the Wheaton Edge promise to support students undertaking internships, research and volunteer work.

Even though Reitmeyer isn’t sure what type of therapist she’d like to be, she knows that this experience at NAMI confirmed her direction.

“Going to NAMI, I was not expecting to get as much experience in the field as I did. … I am very thankful that my supervisor taught me useful communication skills and allowed me to actually experience and prepare for the difficult conversations I could have with patients in the future.”

—Sophie Clarkin ’23

Read about other winternships.