I graduated with a psychology degree in 2005, but at the time felt a little disillusioned, believing that psychology was too diagnosis orientated and somewhat oppressive. Although I was interested in mental health, psychology wasn’t right for me at the time and I focussed my attention towards youth and community work, completing an MA in Youth and Community Work in 2010. I felt at home with the empowering and liberating ethos of the profession, but my passion for mental health never dissipated. In fact, it flourished through youth work, and through maintaining a critically reflective approach have become quite excited at the inseparability of community and mental health approaches.
As a result in 2014 I quit what was a fantastic job within the Local Authority as a professional youth worker, to take on two part time roles: a Community Mental Health Worker within CAMHS, and a Community Mental Health Support Worker within an asylum seeker and refugee mental health team. It was a bit of a risky move for a few reasons, and I still have a slight niggle of trepidation about it at times.
However the more I read and network, I am continually encouraged by an overwhelming appreciation for the social nature of our selves, and the need to work with the wider familial, social, cultural and political aspects that make up our identity. Frequently these voices have come from Community Psychology or Narrative and Family Therapy approaches, however I have also been pleasantly encouraged by the same message that echoes within the clinical psychology profession as well.
Obviously this view isn’t shared by all, and debate gurgles, and sometimes erupts within the mental health field. However, the more that I uncover about psychology, the greater appreciation I have towards its potent relevancy in tackling mental health ‘problems’ in society, and the more reassured I am that I have made the right step towards this profession.