I think we are now in a much better position as the society about understanding the importance of mental health and getting support for this issue when I compare the situation approximately 10 years ago. However, we still have hesitancies, misinformation and bias and they block the support we can get.
First of all, we have difficulties about differentiating people who work in the area of mental health. Psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist… We may consider all as the same or one is superior to the other. So, we cannot decide to whom we will get the help we need.
These are the disinformation and myths I heard a lot about us, psychologists:
The ones who do not prescribe drugs for the treatment are called psychologists.
Psychology is the discipline which examines human behavior and psychologist is the person who has completed 4-years of education on this subject. So, he/she is not a medical doctor who had been educated on medicine, but is a social scientist. This education is not enough to support people on mental health. If a psychologist wishes to work in the field of mental health and support people about self-knowledge, being aware of the difficulties and making changes on their behaviors; he/she should become a clinical psychologist and should complete his/her master training on this subject.
Insane people visit psychologists.
The idea of “Insane people visit psychologists.” is completely wrong. The word insane described as loosing mental health and losing him/herself by the dictionary. However, mental health workers have a much wider spectrum. They work with almost everybody who experience difficulties in their feelings, thoughts and behaviors. The people who have such a description about psychologists block the support they can get as well as label with this description almost all the people who seek help from the psychologists.
A psychologist can read my mind.
A clinical psychologist is not a person with high intuitive power, and certainly not a medium. Since they work with the people, they know people and conduct some studies on people. They have more information than the others on which thoughts and feelings drive the behaviors; but it doesn’t mean that they can read your mind. They listen to you better than the others. They don’t judge you. They don’t label your behaviors or thoughts as bizarre. They are not surprised as much as the others. They can observe how your body accompanies what you are telling. They help you to define your feelings. But, while they are doing all above, they don’t read your mind.
I can manage myself; I don’t need a clinical psychologist to tell me what to do.
It’s usually the sentence of reply for the others recommendation to get help. There may be several reasons to reject help. They may consider experiencing difficulties as weakness, they may exaggerate the difficulties they are dealing with, and they do not have a story of getting help they need from others in the past….
Although the first part of the sentence is loaded enough, I have something to say about the second part of the sentence about the psychologists: A clinical psychologist is not a mentor who tells people what to do. The person him/herself can make the most efficient decision considering their conditions in life. Clinical psychologist is the person who accompanies them during this decision phase, who helps to evaluate their feelings for each option, who helps to ask right questions during the evaluation of functional and non-functional beliefs.
I have many friends that I can talk about my problems. I don’t need a psychologist.
The importance of our friends and all other social environment in our lives cannot be discussed. We need them during our finest moments and also during the times of trouble. It is also a truth that some people visit the psychologists since they do not have friends or people who listen to them. But this is a very shallow definition to define the reason to visit a psychologist.
Our friends who listen to us usually have a role in our experiences. What happen to us has an emotional impact on them too. Although we need to share with them, sometimes we need a professional to understand what happened, to be able to see the underlying factors, and to define the reasons that results to our behaviors and change them.
If I visit a psychologist, he/she prescribe a drug for me which make me numb and I can pass though this phase.
Each part of this sentence has wrong information in it: 1) Psychologists are not authorized to prescribe drugs. The medical doctors have the authorization to prescribe. 2) The drugs that are used for the mental health do not aim to make the people numb. 3) Drugs do not push you away from a phase of trouble.
What I share with you this month is only a few of misjudgments about our profession. And even that much is enough for the people to avoid getting help, to stay longer in the phases of difficulties, and to miss the moment while dealing with the troubles by their selves. But each moment is very valuable and is the essential determinant of what will going to happen next.