MACON – Mercer University School of Medicine Master of Family Therapy (MFT) student Carson Outler was recently accepted to the Minority Fellowship Program (MFP-Y) offered by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Outler was raised in Columbus and earned her Bachelor of Science in psychology from Mercer in 2019. As an aspiring clinician, she hopes to gain experience working with diverse communities and to conduct research on mental health in LGBTQIA+ youth. Specifically, Outler aims to improve mental health services for transgender and minority youth in Middle Georgia.

“I feel that it is imperative to work with individuals, from an intersectional lens, who are most at risk for experiencing oppression and discrimination based on their sexuality, gender identity, race, socioeconomic status and age,” said Outler. “I am passionate about becoming an expert in my field so that I may better serve this population, which is grossly underserved.”

Outler, a second-year student on the Macon campus, is dedicated to expanding the delivery of mental health and services to underserved populations.

“From the moment Carson started in our MFT program, it was clear that she was driven to be an agent of change in the field,” said Dr. Andrea S. Meyer Stinson, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and interim director of the MFT program. “Her dedication to advocate and support the LGTBQIA+ community is present in all her academic and clinical endeavors. We are very proud to have yet another national fellowship recipient in the MFT program at Mercer.”

The Minority Fellowship Program for doctoral-level students was created in 2007 at the AAMFT Research and Education Foundation, whose mission is to fund systemic and relational research, scholarship and education in an effort to support and enhance the practice of systemic and relational therapies; advance the healthcare continuum; and improve client outcomes. SAMHSA began to fund the program in 2008.

In 2014, SAMHSA expanded the Minority Fellowship Program to include the MFP-Youth for master’s-level students.

The MFP-Y program aims to increase the number of culturally competent master’s-level trained behavioral health professionals available to serve children, adolescents and youth transitioning into adulthood, ages 16-25.

Fellows receive a stipend and supplemental training focusing on issues of substance abuse and prevention as well as providing mental health services to minority youth populations in a culturally competent manner with an evidence-based practice approach.

About Mercer University School of Medicine (Macon, Savannah and Columbus)

Mercer University’s School of Medicine was established in 1982 to educate physicians and health professionals to meet the primary care and health care needs of rural and medically underserved areas of Georgia. Today, more than 60 percent of graduates currently practice in the state of Georgia, and of those, more than 80 percent are practicing in rural or medically underserved areas of Georgia. Mercer medical students benefit from a problem-based medical education program that provides early patient care experiences. Such an academic environment fosters the early development of clinical problem-solving and instills in each student an awareness of the place of the basic medical sciences in medical practice. The School opened a full four-year campus in Savannah in 2008 at Memorial University Medical Center. In 2012, the School began offering clinical education for third- and fourth-year medical students in Columbus. Following their second year, students participate in core clinical clerkships at the School’s primary teaching hospitals: Medical Center, Atrium Health Navicent and Coliseum Medical Centers in Macon; Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah; and Piedmont Columbus Regional Hospital and St. Francis Hospital in Columbus. The School also offers master’s degrees in family therapy, preclinical sciences and biomedical sciences and a Ph.D. in rural health sciences.

Jennifer Nelson is the director of marketing and communications for Mercer University School of Medicine. She is responsible for the School’s communications strategy as well as managing all of its print and digital marketing needs, including the website, recruitment materials, and electronic newsletters.