2nd Year Fellow Interview: Christina Hanna

Christina R. Hanna, MPH

Population Health Service Fellow

AIDS/HIV Program, Division of Public Health

Madison, Wisconsin
When did you being your Fellowship?
July 1, 2012

Where is your Fellowship?
My Fellowship placement is located at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Division of Public Health, Bureau of Communicable Diseases and Emergency Response, AIDS/HIV Program

What were you up to prior to your Fellowship?
I had a three year gap between undergraduate and graduate school. I spent two years teaching English in South Korea after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After my time in South Korea, I moved to Michigan where I had a number of things going on including an internship for the Michigan HIV/AIDS Drug Assistance Program at the Michigan Department of Community Health. Then I completed my MPH at the University of Michigan School of Public Health before beginning the Fellowship.

What inspired you to take the Fellowship route rather than a different type of job/school/etc.?
I applied to the Fellowship because it provided me with an opportunity to explore my options and experience different approaches to public health which I felt would help me figure out what I wanted to pursue and accomplish. The fellowship has provided me with this opportunity, as well as the flexibility to explore my interests and gain additional skills as a young public health professional.

What are your main areas of interest within public health?
Sexual and reproductive health; women’s health, social justice, health equity, family and community health issues related to birth and incarceration issues, and community health and resiliency.

What is one thing (or many!) that you are working on right now in your fellowship?
A: I’m in a transitional phase right now, just wrapping up some big projects and starting new projects. I am finishing up a qualitative evaluation on the Linkage to Care Program (pilot program that provides assistance with linkage and retention to medical care for HIV positive individuals) in which I conducted client interviews on their experiences with the program. Results from the evaluation may impact future program implementation and best practices for HIV service providers.
I’m just starting a project with the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) on their In School Pregnancy/Parenting Interventions, Resources, and Education (InSPIRE) grant in which I’m currently developing needs assessment tools for use by the school districts and DPI.

I’m also working on a couple of projects with the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health. I’m assisting them with the planning of the 2014 Wisconsin Women’s Health Policy Summit by developing materials for the event as well as assisting with logistical planning issues when needed. I’m also working with the WAWH to disseminate the results of the evaluation of the Wisconsin Adolescent Health Care Communication Program as a promising practice.

Do you read a public health journal/blog/website regularly? If so, what?
I receive Department of Health and Human Service newsletters from the Office of Minority Health and the Office of Adolescent Health.  I also follow the blog of an MPH classmate and friend who writes about living with Type 1 Diabetes (http://www.typeonederful.com/).

What is one public health achievement you would like to see in the next 25 years?

I would like to see a shift in how mental health is addressed and to decrease the stigma of having a mental health issue and seeking treatment for one.  Stigma prevents many people from acknowledging they are having trouble dealing with life challenges or a known mental health issue. Mental health issues not only affect the daily functioning of the individual, but having a mental health concern makes it more difficult to manage other health issues. I believe that poor mental health is strongly connected to challenges people face in terms of other health issues like obesity, addiction, and the well-being that comes from social and emotional connections with other people. By addressing mental health in a holistic manner, we could see an improvement, not only in individual and community health, but also in social and economic wealth.