So, I’ve been wanting to start writing a blog about one of my favorite topics, mental health, for a while now. I’ve been waiting to feel inspired to write, I guess (I can hear my writer friends hysterically laughing at this). Recently, I kickstarted my private practice and I was frankly overwhelmed (in a good way!) with potential clients. My “niche” is queer people. That’s literally it. We, as in the LGBTQ+ community, are so incredibly starved for GOOD, affordable care that I had people banging down my virtual door the first week I opened. My hope/dream/goal for opening a private practice is to help bridge that gap, even just a wee bit. So here we are.
This career, particularly delivering clinical mental health services, has been my dream for over a decade. A particular therapist that I saw as a teen, who I credit with literally saving my life, inspired me to pursue this goal because I was so blown away by the effect that therapy had on my own life. So, throughout the years as both a provider and a consumer of mental health services and social work services, I have gradually collected observations about the mental healthcare system, how we view mental illness in the US in particular, and what I find really, really works.
The system has changed a lot. The way that we view mental health and mental illness has changed a lot. I won’t get into the long history of mental health treatment (although it’s fascinating and I can totally recommend some books), but I think that we can all agree that there’s not nearly enough. As both a consumer and a provider of mental health services, I understand both sides. It’s nearly impossible to find an affordable therapist, psychiatrist, psychologist, etc, maybe one that even TAKES HEALTH INSURANCE. Going farther than that, if you find this golden ticket of a clinician, how do you know if this person is truly affirmative and competent in regards to the issues that brought you to therapy?
Often times, particularly and maybe exclusively, for people in any sort of minority group—sexual, gender, race, ability, etc—there is a huge fear of being hurt by an ignorant clinician. And, people, I see it happen all the time. It’s happened to me, and certainly I’ve seen it happen to patients at the hospital I work at. I try to make even a little dent in what I see as a wide chasm, which is why I’m so drawn to working with the populations that I do.
Surely I’ve gone on long enough. All of this to say that, I think there is a big change happening in mental health. More people are becoming empowered to not only understand but be an active participant in treatment in their mental health struggles. This stuff is being openly talked about by younger generations, and there isn’t a stigma around getting therapy anymore. The barriers and the gate keepers are being knocked down, radically so, by young people taking ownership of their own mental health. That is powerful, and certainly scary for the old guard, so there is already pushback on this in the field. This new, accessible way of talking about, treating, and discussing mental health is part of what I plan to explore with my writing. I hope you’ll enjoy my observations, and I welcome discussion and comments.
Have an awesome day,