I don’t usually talk about it, but I love PostSecret. I’ve been reading the site nearly since its creation. I am amazed at the things people share and I’m grateful that Frank Warren has created a space for these shares.
One of the core focus areas for Frank (and for PS) is suicide. He spends a lot of time soliciting for Suicide Prevention services and he’s an advocate of that work. And what I’m about to say should, in no way, detract from that noble effort.
But I have a concern.
At key times, Frank himself will allow people to provide feedback about a postcard. Or he will, himself, respond to the postcard’s author (below the card on his site – he doesn’t have actual contact information for anyone unless they list it on the card). And he never discourages something that I think needs to be discouraged:
If you have any kind of mental illness, there’s no stigma associated with the illness… and it’s not who you are. But you should NOT be entering the mental health field.
I’m prepared to get blasted for this opinion, but I have a LOT of experience with this. You might make an excellent psychiatrist, social worker or psych nurse. But you should stay away from those fields. Not because you can’t do the job… but because it’s similar to a gambler going into a casino. You will have developed knowledge, skills and abilities in your field which may make you believe that you are now equipped to manage your own illness.
And I hate to break it to you, but you can’t.
You can’t and you shouldn’t (even if it were possible for you to do so). And it also biases you (positively or negatively is irrelevant, it’s any bias that isn’t good) with regards to the treatment of anyone who has (or might have) the same mental illness that you do.
So look. If you are suffering from a mental illness and have been working hard to manage your disease, that’s absolutely fantastic! And if you believe that the mental health professionals that helped you should be honored in some way, that’s great, too (they work really hard without a lot of recognition). But don’t honor them by trying to BE them. It could possibly work out just fine… or it could become disastrous. Why risk it? There are thousands of fields that need intelligent people – find one that doesn’t relate to something you’re that intimately involved in.