Sunday, November 27, 2016

Mental Health 'Professionals'- What Is A Professional?

There are thousands of counselors, therapists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals.  I like to think that they all got into their profession because of their empathy and understanding for others, but this is not always the case.  This is a profession where compassion and empathy are crucial to being a good helper.

In order to be a good helper, it is my belief that person doing the helping needs to have some experience in what they are providing help for.  Our system is filled with young people with little life experience trying to help others 'get better'.  I applaud them for their education and drive, but theory alone is not going to help someone who is suffering.  You need to know what it feels like before you can truly understand it.

Our system here does not put nearly enough weight on experience in what they are teaching to others.  Would you want someone who has never swam before to teach you how?  If are learning to play a sport of any kind, do you want to learn it from someone who has never played the game before?  Of course you wouldn't!  So why would you want mental health professional teaching how to suffer less when they have not truly suffered themselves yet?

I am not saying that young people have not had their share of suffering.  In this hectic and chaotic world of ours, young people experience much more suffering each day than ever before in history. But until you have lived life as an adult, or have been a parent, you have not really experienced life yet.  Young people are easier to train, but what they are being taught protects the system more often than the individuals.

The societal system here teaches 'confidentiality' in everything and causes professionals to almost stress over it.  I agree that clients and patients have an absolute right to confidentiality but it needs to be clarifies.  In any office setting, all personal information should always protect the privacy of every client, but the 'client' needs to be taught something different.

As someone who is experienced in life and also has an education in mental health, I have formed my own opinions.  My opinions are based on what I have experience in life and what I have learned from books.   I create theories and practice them in my everyday life.  My opinion is that we need to teach people to be open about their mental health issues.

The more we talk about them and bring them into the open, the better chance that others around us will become more understanding and empathetic of us.  The less we hide, the less we suppress.  Suppression is what holds the anxiety and depression inside.

I have thrown a few ideas out here and now will bring them all together.   Anyone who has lived life, suffered, and learned lessons is already a mental health 'professional' in their own rights.  Don't be intimidated by the 'system' just because it does not consider you a professional.  If you have suffered through an invisible illness and found the other side, then you should be able to share your 'professional' advice with others who are suffering the same way.

Only be a 'specialist' in things you have lived through and truly know about.  If you have created coping mechanism or have simply found things that work for your illness, share your words with others who could use the help.  Tell them you understand because you have been there.  Anyone in the 'pit' will appreciate help from someone who truly 'gets it'.  We may not show our appreciation at first, but a hand up from someone who has been there is always worth the effort.

This is like a 'call to action'.  Educate yourself about your mental health issues or others close to you.  Use your experience to give others a hand up, and be a mental health 'professional' yourself.  Share your background so others will be at ease with you.  I hope to get people helping each other all around the world.

If you have been depressed and have good ideas to share, share them with a depressed person.  If you suffer from severe anxiety, but have created successful coping mechanisms, then share them with someone else you know who is also suffering.  Become a Mental Health 'Professional' and make the world a better place on sufferer at a time.

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