There are a lot of people out there who have had terrible experiences with mental health professionals. Sometimes those experiences are valid, other times they are the result of the way we interact with them. But you want to know the real problem with mental health professionals?
They’re human beings; not so different than you or I.
We expect them to understand hundreds of mental illnesses and the way they affect each of us specifically. Mental illness is an incredibly personal experience. Though we are bound by threads of symptoms, they can manifest in very different ways from person to person.
Many of us walk into their offices, withhold important information, lie about what we’re experiencing, and then blame them when they can’t meaningfully help us. Too many of us walk into their offices and expect them to fix decades of mental illness in the course of a couple hours a month.
It’s easy to think that many professionals don’t give a shit because they are under tight time constraints to meet whatever quotas they have to meet standards imposed by other parties; be it a medical conglomerate, the government, or just keeping up with paying the bills. Thus, they can appear to be callous when harshly enforcing time limits or being rigid.
Nobody becomes a mental health professional to get rich. It’s one of the lowest paying, highest stress divisions of the medical industry. The people that do go into it are often there due to personal reasons, be it a mental illness of their own or having been affected by watching a loved one suffer. And I have talked to several who have reached out to me over the years who are dealing with their own mental illness while trying to help their patients.
Too many of us expect perfection out of our professionals because we are suffering. But they can’t give us perfection, because they’re human. And they certainly can’t read your mind if you choose to withhold information or misrepresent what you’re dealing with.
Do you want to know the secret to making meaningful progress with a mental health professional? Be a proactive participant in pursuing your wellness with as much honesty as you can.
What does it mean to be a proactive participant?
You need to work to understand your diagnosis and how it affects you SPECIFICALLY. Bipolar Disorder, and several other mental illnesses, can look very different from person to person. A lot of material that is produced is written from a perspective that may not necessarily reflect your personal experience. A counselor can be very helpful for working to better understand how your mental illness affects you.
Ask questions. Know why your professional is making the decisions that they are making. How is this medication supposed to help you? What is it supposed to do? How will I know if it is working or not? What side effects should I be looking for? How long should it take? A good professional will take the time to explain it to you; a bad one will just ask for blind trust or make you feel like you can’t understand.
There are a lot of good people in mental health care that want to help, but caring about people is a very difficult thing to do. The chaos and instability of mental illness, bad decisions, malicious and toxic people all take a very drastic, deep toll on caregivers.
That’s not even touching on the unethical or bad mental health professionals out there. They definitely do exist. Not everyone is good or even competent at their jobs.
Mental health professionals do not fix mentally ill people. They are there to help us fix ourselves. Mental health recovery is like 95% personal work and effort. No one can just hand wellness to you. It’s something you struggle, fight, and sacrifice for.
Understand that and you’ll have a much better time dealing with your professionals.
And, to any mental health professionals that may be reading this, thank you for your personal sacrifices and doing what you do.
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