May marks Mental Health Awareness Month. The battle cry is loud on social media for people to get treatment, for society to reduce stigma and to increase funding for programs.
Let’s be honest though. We can’t have effective mental health programs without well prepared mental health professionals.
Teachers get appreciation days so this post will give therapists appreciation AND spread some awareness from my perspective as a mental health therapist.
- Therapists don’t get a Master’s Degree and automatically get placed into a therapy room. For most states, you have to get a license IN ADDITION to your Masters. It can take at least 2 years of internship (low pay, weekly supervision meetings with a licensed therapist, brutal exam) before you can get licensed. Some jobs won’t hire you without a license.
- We don’t get summer breaks or extended holiday vacations.
- It can be VERY hard to get coverage for vacations, maternity leave, FMLA or sick time.
- If you work for a non-profit agency your job can be at the mercy of yearly State or Federal grants.
- MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS ARE NOT IN THIS BUSINESS FOR THE MONEY. Sometimes we get paid LESS than teachers but are required to have MORE education.
- Depending on your caseload, you could see back to back clients all day, with little time to research methods that could help them and little time to process the content of your sessions.
- If you work in a residential, correctional or hospital setting you may get paid well but will work holidays and weekends. It may take years of “tenure” in your position to get holidays or evenings off.
- Some clients are “mandated” by the courts, schools or employers to attend treatment. They won’t always come in willing to work on personal issues and can make a 50 minute session feel like an eternity. It may take mandated clients months to warm up to you or to even start telling you the truth.
My dream is for appropriate funding for mental health programs and adequate staffing so therapists are not overwhelmed. The therapist credo is, “Do no harm.” It’s hard to stick to this when you feel overwhelmed.
I want people to have easier access to low-cost mental health care.
I want child care centers within mental health outpatient centers so parents don’t have a barrier to receiving the therapy they need.
I don’t want it to be easier to get a mental health license. These hurdles are essential so that therapists can be adequately trained before working one on one with clients. My only complaint is that some state boards require you to have 2 supervisors while working on your license. That’s not always realistic but I digress…..
I love what I do and I’m passionate about being a guide to people’s healing and success. Click To Tweet I could win a lottery jackpot and I would STILL work in this field (except maybe I would start work at 10).
I love listening to my clients, seeing their eyes sparkle when they get their “A-HA” moment and sometimes having to call them out on their sh–.
If we’re going to repost and retweet about mental health awareness let’s remember who’s there in the trenches helping out our loved ones.