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Grad Success

Profiles of Florida State's Best and Brightest

Courtney Cantrell

Courtney Cantrell

College of Arts & Sciences

  • Doctor of Clinical Psychology, 2008

Grad Success: Courtney Cantrell

It’s been quite a journey for Courtney Cantrell, who in March of 2014 was appointed as acting director of the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Growing up, Cantrell was deeply affected by watching her grandparents’ cope with major life changes, including the decline of their mental and physical health. Her interest in psychology developed from this experience, and she began questioning why some people with chronic illness are able to survive and move on, while others simply give up.

Originally from Texas, Cantrell moved to Tallahassee in 1998 to obtain her master’s and doctorate in clinical psychology. She credits Florida State with providing her with critical research skills and a substantial amount of clinical experience. This experience proved to be a huge benefit for Cantrell, as she believes it helped her land a psychology internship with the U.S. Air Force. She quickly became acquainted with the Air Force’s integrated care program, which teaches interns how to provide patients with mental health support in addition to physical primary care. Cantrell began to understand how vital the link between mental health services and primary care was. After leaving the Air Force, she moved to North Carolina and found odd jobs working in integrated care.

Cantrell’s big break came amid North Carolina’s Medicaid reform. The state’s Medicaid office was seeking someone with integrated care expertise to help develop a new policy. Cantrell took the position, where she was ultimately promoted to integrated care policy adviser and was given the opportunity to write both the integrated care and mental health services portions of the Medicaid reform plan. During this period, Cantrell worked closely with the Division of Mental Health Services. After the initial stages of reform planning finished, Cantrell was moved into her current position as acting director of Mental Health Services.

Cantrell describes the most rewarding part of her career as having the ability to “impact something, do the right thing, and make the right decisions everyday.”

As acting director, she oversees the writing of services programs and policies, while working closely with other state divisions, including social services, foster care and public health. She also continues to assist in the state’s Medicaid and mental health services reform.


Cantrell describes the most rewarding part of her career as having the ability to “impact something, do the right thing, and make the right decisions everyday.”