Hello fellow bloggers and readers,
I believe that May was Mental Health Awareness month, but for me, I do not need a designated month to advocate for individuals that need assistance or to discuss the profession as a whole.
To begin, 1 in 4 individuals suffer from a mental illness. So if you think about yourself and three other friends, one person may be silently suffering. Do you know who it is? Perhaps, is it you? What I am trying to get at here is, why is something quite common not talked about as often? Why is something that is normal not “normalized” yet?
There is a stigma that surrounds the mental health sector and the profession as a whole: it is not seen eye-to-eye compared to other STEM related professions.
I strive to challenge these existing beliefs within society in an effort to break down these barriers. Some of the reasons why I specifically decided to join the mental health profession was to:
(1) ADVOCATE for vulnerable individuals. Social Work is a great platform for this and that is why I wanted to begin my undergrad in Social Work and later move onto a Clinical Psychology path.
(2) EDUCATE people who have a diagnosis.
Psychoeducation is a very important part in the counseling process. It can empower the individual and give them a piece of mind by finally providing them with a reason to why things happen. Education is a great tool to promote mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing.
(3) Spread AWARENESS to the general public.
In my eyes, understanding and clear communication are the key concepts in what it means to really listen to someone. Additionally, active listening is an over looked skill and tool that needs to be practiced by everyone. Furthermore, actively talking about mental health is a good way to bring up “taboo topics” and bring said topics to light. The more that individuals become become aware, the more people know, the more they would be willing to listen and stand up for the greater good.
First off, I want to go ahead and say that you should NEVER be ashamed of having a mental illness and should not feel bad about voicing your experiences. Never ever ever ever ever EVER. Though it is difficult, do not internalize your mental illness and lump it into facets of your identity and personality etc. A mental illness is a EXTERNAL. It is by NO means a personality trait or character trait. It is not representative -a descriptor- of who you are as a person by any means. If someone tries to tell you otherwise, give them a link to my blog and tell them to sit down; shut up; and listen. Do not waste your breath justifying anything because these ignorant people just will not understand it. You never have to justify anything to anyone especially when it comes to personal experiences in your life. A mental illness it is simply something out of your control that can manifest itself in different ways. It can be due to a genetic predisposition, environment, and stressors. Part of why I joined this blogging platform and writing for Her Campus at my university is to let my voice be heard through different mediums and to promote authenticity. I want to be genuine and let people know that it is OKAY to talk about their struggles, their goals, and their dreams without having to worry about being judged by others. To me, no story is ever worth being left unsaid and no question asked is ever a stupid question.
Secondly, always remember that finding the best therapist for you is a MUTUAL SELECTION PROCESS. I want to blatantly put out there that you should never let another person DEVALUE your experiences. EVER. They do not have that power over you, you are much stronger than that. Remember it. Speak up if someone is mistreating you and call them out on their impolite behaviour. This also is transferable to the therapeutic alliance. (The therapeutic alliance is a fancy term that means “relationship between counselor/therapist and client”). If you and your counselor/therapist do not click or you are not pleased with them, do not stay with that counselor/therapist. If they ever do not understand the severity of your struggles DO NOT continue to go to them, give them your time, money, and energy. Go forth by doing research on another organization that provides services, do research on the therapists within that organization, and ask the therapists questions. Most of the time, therapists will not get offended if you ask them general questions about their educational background. You want to make sure that they can help you with what you need. A therapist is taught to assess if they are able to treat you based on their education, training, experience, and competence. If they are unable to do so, and still take you on as a client without referring you further feel free to ask to see another therapist.
What You Can Do For Yourself
Understand that therapy and counseling are not synonyms: they have to separate meanings. “Therapy” refers to working with someone who is diagnosed with a mental illness condition. “Counseling” refers to working with clients that are not diagnosed (fit the DSM criteria), do not experience a lot distress or impairment, but do want to work toward becoming “optimally adjusted”. You can search for resources around your area so that you have an idea of where to go when seeking treatment or a formal diagnosis. Looking for resources is handy as you could educate yourself through the trusted online websites and academic references. Most importantly, you can speak up!
There is so much I want to discuss, but it would be too much to sort it all into one post. I will have to write multiple posts to address certain topics. Thank you for listening! You have the ability to revitalized your life and wellbeing!
Remember to take care of yourself & be the one that helps,