Our Employees Open Up
Why are you in this field?
DANA: I am in this field because both of my parents work in this field; growing up I was subjected to a variety of populations that were different than myself. I was raised to believe every individual has a purpose and strength rather than limitations. Of course, everyone has their own limitations but why focus on those when we can focus on the strengths and give those who have been treated as if they can’t do something the opportunity to do something.
MARK: I believe that individuals with mental health issues often do not get the proper help/care that they need. I would like to change as many lives as I can.
YOLANDA: I became intrigued by mental health when I was diagnosed with my own mental health issues at 14. I knew there had to be a greater purpose and reason behind my struggle (as corny as that may sound). I was able to volunteer as a junior counselor and made connections with people on a level that I never knew was possible. I knew that this was what I was supposed to do with my life.
MARIA: To serve people.
KELLY: Because I had a huge passion for wanting to help people. Something called me to the psychology field, and I never knew exactly what that would look like when I was in college, but when I learned of working with consumers directly with their mental health needs, I knew this would be a great opportunity for me.
MOHAMMED: By accident. I like teaching and I wound up teaching those who need it the most.
What does “mental health” mean to you?
DANA: Mental Health to me means having a brain that is structured differently than others in various forms. Mental health causes people to view themselves as well as others in a different perspective than most; mental health varies so giving it one basic definition is hard.
MARK: Mental health: a person’s psychological and social well-being.
YOLANDA: Mental health means stability of the mind and contentment with being in your own skin, being happy with what you see in the mirror, and having an understanding and comfort level with who you are as a person. (that’s a lot!)
MARIA: The continuous process of taking steps to improve and protect our mental, physical, and emotional faculties.
KELLY: I would have to say that mental health is the full state of your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
MOHAMMED: A constant, everyday drive to improve our balance between ourselves/our needs with others and the world around us. Mental health means waking up each day and deciding to do it again.
What do you think “mental health” meant 100 years ago?
DANA: Mental health 100 years ago most likely meant someone who is “insane” or “crazy,” maybe even a contagious disease.
MARK: 100 years ago mental health was not really taken into consideration. You were either “normal” or “broken”. An individual in poor mental health was not considered to be a person at all.
YOLANDA: 100 years ago, I’m sure people did not consider “mental health.” Rather, they considered surface level appearances and had narrow views of what “normal” was. I would hate to have been “mentally ill” 100 years ago. I personally would have ended up in some kind of asylum I’m sure!
MARIA: Used only to refer to the business of caring for those who were seen as “mentally ill.”
KELLY: Hysteria, crazy women, witches, “lock them up”, legal liability, unsafe, unstable, WOMEN.
MOHAMMED: Convenient cures for imagined illnesses.
Please share any stories/personal motivations regarding mental health if you would like to.
DANA: I have family members who have suffered/still do suffer from mental illness. Seeing the struggle and reacting to what we think is a simple situation as if it was life or death was hard. My close friend attempted suicide a year ago: 5/15/16. She had texted me multiple times expressing how she felt, I had encouraged her to receive help and even reached out to her loved ones, but she would tell everyone she was better. If her son was not home, she would tell me she is going to do it, but never did. Until one night, her two-year-old was home with only her. She decided to swallow an entire bottle of pills and drive blacked out to the hospital with her son in the car. She was met at the hospital by CPS, the police, and her son’s father. She lost custody temporarily. Seeing her struggle through outpatient and knowing she could lose her son was heartbreaking. I could not help but think what if I could do more? Why did she put her son in danger? Then it dawned on me: her brain told her that is what she is. Her brain told her she is not capable of being a mother, even though she is. She has now switched medication and goes to therapy regularly. She has never been happier and has her son back home with her.
MARK: My own diagnosis with a mental illness motivates me every day to help those who feel as though there is no hope.
YOLANDA: Dislike – stigma (of clients and those who work with them), the repetitive non-compliance with treatment, bad providers, not being able to “reach” or help everyone. Mostly, entitled attitudes!
MARIA: My previous job was in sales and teaching others to sell, and I was good at it. Not in the typical way but I enjoyed caring for others’ emotional well-being and I am resourceful, which led to innovative solutions and a level of trust with my customers that is hard-won. Trust means repeat business. That experience led me to seek opportunities to serve people in ways that might go a little deeper than a suit for a job interview or the perfect wedding dress. I’m here to serve people.
MOHAMMED: Everyone has leanings in their personality and mannerisms, learned from our parents and customized by society. One person’s weird gestures may be a simple expression of discomfort or a popular hand motion. Over thinking and anxiety can make our palms sweat, but can also develop unique ideas and motivations. Even positive moments – a first kiss – can drive someone into cardiac arrest, showing the delicate line between mental and physical. We call someone without a diagnosis “normal,” but what does that mean? Where is the prime meridian of the mind? My personal motivation to be in this field is the same as everyone else’s, I feel: I couldn’t escape it.
What do you NOT like about the mental health field?
DANA: I do not like that there are individuals who are not recognized for their mental illness or have to reach a certain point or act in a certain way to be treated.
MARK: Lack of funding and burnout for MHC providers.
YOLANDA: I wish society would look at mental health issues with a different lens… it surely is not glamorous or socially acceptable to say, “I have a mental illness”, but so many people actually do!
MARIA: I’m relatively new to the mental health field but the majority of what I’ve seen is poorly structured, understaffed, underfunded, and in an effort to maximize every little bit of funding and staffing organizations are forced to focus on the wrong things when the focus should be on building up people and nurturing the strengths of the individuals; doing the work so that those we serve receive the care they need.
KELLY: All the stigmas around WHAT it is, getting and receiving treatment, and how to handle it within the mass population.
MOHAMMED: All human services are notoriously non-profit and those working in the fields never make any money. It’s time we placed humans at a higher level of material value than the iPhone.
How could the mental health field be better, for you or your consumers?
DANA: If there were more community outreach programs or volunteer clinics.
MARK: The mental health field could be better if there were more people working in the field, lowering the caseloads for those who currently work in it. This could help prevent burnout and improve the quality of services each client receives. Also, if government funding were increased for organizations that help the mentally disabled population.
YOLANDA: If mental illness treatment and research got the same attention as breast cancer research, we would all be in a better place.
MARIA: Mental health organizations should be using and encouraging the same techniques within their organizations and with their employees that they are using with the individuals they serve. I would like to see a greater focus on preparing the people who are serving and supporting by building them up, as well as building organizations that reflect the teachings we use.
KELLY: If only there could be more funding, more visibility, better access to community-based services and treatments.
MOHAMMED: Invent some method whereby those on the “outside” (people who don’t work in this field, who aren’t experienced with mental health, etc.) could work directly with this population. More awareness and direct contact breeds compassion and progress.
PDG employees and direct care staff provided these responses in May 2017. Names have been changed to protect privacy.