#DearMentalHealthProfessionals

Because 140 characters are just not enough.

Dear Mental Health Professionals,

I’ve been reading the #DearMentalHealthProfessionals hashtag on Twitter (Storify opens in new window). I feel a deep sense of sadness and shame thinking about the variations in quality and service user experience that exist.

Having worked in mental health for many years – first as a volunteer, then a support worker, and now an occupational therapist – I know that there are so many things that can influence our practice. I know what it’s like to have mounting pressures, expectations and standards to juggle. What it’s like to just not have enough time in the day to do all that you want to do. I know what it’s like to sit across from someone and feel helpless. I also know what it’s like to arrive at work exhausted, after a difficult night with very little sleep, carrying personal worries and pain that constantly vie for your attention. Or to notice that one of your own “buttons” have been unexpectedly triggered. We are, after all, complex (and flawed) humans – just like the people we support.

But I also know that none of those things can ever excuse treating people with anything less than respect and dignity. I hope to never lose sight of the value and potential of each individual I am with. I hope to continue to strive to be fully present, interested and aware in my interactions with people. I want to continue to treat people in a way that communicates respect and hope. And I want to work collaboratively with people, empowering them to be their own occupational therapist.

And these are my hopes for all of us, whether we work on acute wards or in the community, whether therapists, support workers or medical professionals. Because above all, it is my hope that people who use our services have a consistent experience of respect, dignity and recovery.

Kind regards,

Your fellow mental health professional, Clarissa

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