Should mental health workers have had exposure to mental diseases themselves?

Discussion in 'I Have a Question...' started by TheBLA, Aug 10, 2012.

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  1. TheBLA

    TheBLA Well-Known Member

    I just recently thought about this. I just feel that if you have never been exposed to depression, etc. you just can't relate to someone on the same level as if you have had it. I didn't understand it as well either before I became afflicted by it. I also used to think stupidly that its just some silly phase, something we can easily get over, not as serious as a physical disease that I can see its ravaging effects on the outside, etc. I feel this experience with it would make me a better care-taker for my patients than those who have simply read mounds of books on this subject.

    There is just nothing like being exposed to such a devastating disease to better connect with your patients. I now understand how the disease robs you of any goals and ambitions, it skews your view on everything, it makes you think that going to a mental health doctor is a waste of time and money, why bother, it will never get better, suicide is the only answer, etc. Its just like someone else has taken over the steering wheel on the car that is your life, you've been pushed to the passenger's seat, and its taking you where you don't want to go, but you just can't help it.

    Am I right? I'm probably wrong and just spouting some nonsense, haha, my low self-esteem talking again. :biggrin-new:

    I just don't think those who have been mentally healthy their whole life can really be qualified to be mental health doctors. Just like I feel that I can't take advice from any friend or family member who has never suffered that way either. I just can't take them fully seriously! Its like being part of this exclusive club that nobody wishes they were a part of. If you're not on the inside, you'll just never understand like we do, ever.
  2. NYJmpMaster

    NYJmpMaster Have a question? Message Me Staff Member Forum Owner ADMIN

    I go to a regular Dr for several physical conditions that it is exceptionally unlikely he has ever had and it never occurred to me to question his competency, instead I rely on his education, training, and experience. I do not think it makes him a lesser Dr for never having experienced my health problems.

    The same would apply to psychiatric professionals, only perhaps to a greater extent. As apathetic as I get when depressed I certainly would not want the person treating me in the same condition.
  3. pancake111

    pancake111 Well-Known Member

    I agree with you to a certain extent. I think this is the reason why suicide hotlines and crisis centers don't work very well. Many of the people there don't know what its like. Ergo not really understanding our situation.

    But at the same time I think psychitrists and therapith etc. Are really there to help us and we need to put our trust in them in order to get better. They may not fully understand what its like, but they know how to get us to a better place in life.

    I'm also a type 1 diabetic (for 12 yrs) and I HATE it when people think they know what diabetes is when really they have no idea. Like you said with depression, you can't know what its like to have diabetes unless you actually have it. Although my diabetes educator isn't diabetic, it doesn't mean she doesn't know what she's talking about. Its all about trust.
  4. TheBLA

    TheBLA Well-Known Member

    I'd also feel a tad uncomfortable if my current doctor was currently depressed as I was. But I would at least liked him or her to have had exposure to it in the past and having been cured from it. But even when someone is cured, they will never forget what it felt like and will still be able to relate to their currently suffering patients and hopefully relieve them of the same anguish and pain as well.

    In the extremely low chance I ever get cured, it has still left permanent scars on my psyche which I will never, ever forget, for good and for bad. I will always have this forever changed perception towards mental illness and those afflicted, with more compassion and understanding than when I was "normal" several years ago.

    No university degree or amount of books will ever make you fully realize the crippling effects of depression and other mental health issues without having suffered through them yourself.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 13, 2012
  5. Wastingecho

    Wastingecho Well-Known Member

    they can't expose medical doctors to all the conditions they are likely to treat - however they do give interns a medication to induce the pain of a heart attack so that CAN understand what a victim feels and be more likely to work quickly and efficiently to deal with that

    while they can't really do that for mental health professionals, i do wish that they had to live through the consequences of their actions - i think every psychologist/psychiatrist should have to go through the experience of being handcuffed and paraded arount the hospital ER while waiting the 30 minutes it takes to be brought into the psych section - pretty damned sure they have no clue what they feels like
  6. Anonymous2

    Anonymous2 Well-Known Member

    I do think psychologist and psychiatrist would be better if they had some personal exposure to mental diseases. Without exposure, they will never be able to truly empathize. They can obtain plenty of knowledge; however, it is unlikely that they will be able to truly care about their patients.

    Often, lower-level mental health professional's like counselors have personally dealt with mental disorders. For example, many drug counselors are ex-addicts. The higher level professionals, like psychiatrists, rarely have disturbing past because more stringent background requirements and the length of education.
  7. Mr Stewart

    Mr Stewart Well-Known Member

    Hmm. I don't think so. It wouldn't make me feel any more comfortable with them if I knew they had. I'm more interested in their knowledge of medications anyway. In some respects I trust the pharmacists at the grocery store more than I do my pdoc.
  8. gloomy

    gloomy Account Closed

    I really don't think it's necessary.

    They should have empathy, patience, understanding, and be open-minded. Veterinarians don't need to be animals in order to treat animals. Doctors don't need to be cancer survivors before they can treat cancer patients. To be honest, I'd probably be more skeptical about a therapist who was always depressed or anxious, because when I feel that way it definitely doesn't make me feel like I can help other people.
  9. Acy

    Acy Mama Bear - TLC, Common Sense Staff Member Safety & Support

    I once read an article about psychiatrists. Interestingly, it said that many psychiatrists go into the specialty because of exposure to someone with mental illness (in their family, schoolmates, neighbors, etc.). Sadly, many other medical specialties look on mental health as "weird" and stigmatized, thus furthering the stigmatization. :dunno:

    I don't think actually having had a mental illness themselves is necessary for mental health workers, but having empathy, patience, understanding and an open mind (as gloomy said), can all make a better mental health worker.
  10. TheBLA

    TheBLA Well-Known Member

    I feel one shouldn't even be a mental health worker in the first place without having all those qualities. Unfortunately, it seems too many in the field do lack such qualities and only end up harming their vulnerable patients. I don't know if its because they become jaded after witnessing so many depressed and suffering people that it rubs off on them or what. Same with like social workers who deal with the worst that society has to offer and then you just become hardened and bitter. :(
  11. Acy

    Acy Mama Bear - TLC, Common Sense Staff Member Safety & Support

    I agree that those are qualities that any healthcare provider, mental health worker needs. People in the caring professions are supposed to know to look after themselves so they don't burn out and get hardened or blind to the things affecting their clients.
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