2 April 2002

Why do people choose to enter mental health professions?

There are many, many reasons, not least of which are the desire to help people; to give back to those people who helped them in their own time of need; and to develop self-understanding. But there is a reason which is so obvious that I think a lot of people forget all about it. Having experienced their own emotional difficulties, challenges, issues, and losses, people who go into mental health professional are sensitised to how significantly mental health issues can affect our lives. They are, in turn, sensitised to the need for people who can help others navigate their complex emotional difficulties. For those who’ve never experienced significant emotional difficulties (eg, depression) or traumas (eg, rape), it doesn’t really cross their minds that such difficulties 1. exist; 2. can be disrupting to one’s everyday life; and 3. require the training of people who can help sufferers cope.