Growing up, Dr. Nita Kumar had an early exposure to the career path she would take. Her father was a psychiatrist at the Independence Mental Health Institute in Independence, Iowa and the family lived on the institution’s grounds.
The Independence Mental Health Institute provides inpatient psychiatric treatment for adults, adolescents, and children and Kumar found she had an interest in working with children. As a teen she volunteered with activities, such as dances and athletic days, and played piano for the children.
While her father wanted her to become a medical doctor, Kumar pursed her interest in mental health. She earned an undergraduate degree in psychology from Upper Iowa University, a graduate degree in human services from Bellevue University in Nebraska and a PhD in marriage and family therapy and professional counseling from Cappella University, based in Minneapolis.
After working as a therapist, including in the Intermediate School District 287, and in the private sector as a mental health administrator, Kumar has joined the Anoka-Hennepin School District as the mental health coordinator.
A new position, Kumar will direct the development, implementation and evaluation of district-wide student mental health services, including building public/private collaboration, program design and monitoring. Other duties include: designing, coordinating and implementing district-wide student mental health services, creating policies and procedure, consistent with school district’s policies and state and federal law and working with private and public agencies to assure appropriate community services, to prevent duplication of services between agencies, and to facilitate successful mental health intervention for children and families. Kumar will be accountable for the overall effectiveness of the mental health service program and services at Anoka-Hennepin.
While she had not been looking for a new job, Kumar said when she read the mental health consultant job description she saw it as a culmination of her work experience.
“When I saw it I thought it had my name written all over it; it’s a dream job for me,” Kumar said. “It includes a project management component and the child/adolescent component that I’ve been missing.
“I also knew Anoka-Hennepin hasn’t had this role and it was exciting to know that the district was excited about adding it. Everyone has been supportive of this role and they are supportive of me. It’s nice to go where you are wanted and appreciated.”
Kumar looks forward to working with Anoka-Hennepin staff to create more awareness about mental health issues and the resources that are available to students.
“It’s nice to have a job that you can feel passionate about,” she said.