Updated: May 1
Therapeutically, the act of caring for others is something has been both a challenging, yet rewarding endeavour.
It has been inspiring seeing the psychological community continue to grow year after year. When I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Criminology in 2017, I was fresh out of university and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with myself. I thought about becoming a clinical psychologist; because to me, that seemed like the only sensible career path to have after spending three years (5 if you include A-Level Psych – thanks OCR!) studying psychology. But how do you determine which pathway is the right one for you? Time. Three years later, I have had the fortune of training in a variety of settings (Communication and Behaviour Assistant, Assistant Psychologist, Therapeutic Play Worker, and now Mental Health Worker) which have not only pushed me outside of my comfort zones but have offered me a space for reflection and a deeper understanding of why I do what I do. And to be truthful, I’m still figuring it out – but that’s okay. This is a journey.
Earlier this year I had the oppertunity to speak at an event which showcased several other Black men share their experiences with Mental Health. During my first encounter with depression and anxiety at university, never would I have imagined my own resilience in being able to be vulnerable in front of others. But I have been, and I can look back now and be proud because so many others had told me that they too had experienced something similar to me, and the fact that I had shown it was okay to be vulnerable, they joined me in their efforts of sharing their stories.
Now, I spend my time working in CAMHS (or if you’re a care worker in the North East of London/Essex you will be familiar with the Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Service). I have worked alongside some remarkable staff, mental health champions and resilient children and adolescents. Whilst so many things can contribute to having ‘good’ mental health, this can be different for everyone. In some realities, one hour a week isn’t always enough for our patients and we might then spend our evenings worrying about them, or ourselves and we might start to question our abilities if we don’t see someone progressing straight away. But, just as we need time to determine which area of psychology is right for us, so do our patients who are learning to deal with their mental health inside and outside of the therapy room. So whilst it might not feel like we’re good enough, remember, you are.
I would encourage anyone reading this to remember to take out for yourselves in the midst of what is going on around us. Developing a more resilient Mental Health comes with the daily practice of mindfully working on yourself. Whatever that might mean for you, spend it by putting yourself first because it’s okay to do so. You have needs (think Maslow) and it’s important to have those met.
So this post is dedicated to all of the wonderful young people who I have had the absolute pleasure of working with, and the incredible staff and psychological community who not only continue to change the narrative of it being okay to ask for help but by continuing to challenge the stigma Mental Health faces and demand that our services are kept funded, and accessible for those who need it: past, present and future.
Happy Mental Health Awareness Week.
Stay Safe, and Stay Well.