A Degree Will Not Fix Your Problems

This is an open letter to university students. Particularly to those studying psychology or mental health. I have a feeling that our motivations are similar and as someone who has been through it twice, I’d like to offer some advice.

A Degree Will Not Fix Your Problems

Firstly, thank you for choosing to study a subject that could ultimately help change someone’s life for the better. That in itself is an incredible journey to embark on, you should be proud of yourself.  

The thing with psychology-based degrees is that they’re very heavy on the symptoms and presentation of mental illnesses and disorders. State the obvious I know, but courses with an emphasis on mental health issues tend to attract a certain type of person in my experience. 

The typical mental health/psychology student is kind, compassionate, highly motivated, enthusiastic, and at some point, past or present, suffered with their mental health. You see, the topic of mental health tends to attract people with first-hand experience. It is something that, for whatever reason, is difficult to resonate with if your life hasn’t been affected by it in some form. 

This trait, in and of itself isn’t an issue.  The issue lies in whether or not the mental health problems of psychology majors have been treated at all. You see, there is a reason that they tell you to put your own oxygen mask on before helping others.  With all the best intentions in the world.

You simply cannot provide the proper level of professional care when you yourself haven’t started working on the problems you struggle with.  

I am by no means suggesting that you have to have all of your issues sorted out before you can pursue this career, that would be overkill. All I am saying is that you cannot educate your way out of depression, anxiety, or OCD. 

You cannot be your own therapist, and knowledge of an illness does not give you the tools to heal it. For your health, for your career, for all the people you dream of helping, seek professional assistance for the things you struggle with now. It will be so worth it in the long run.  

Sort out your own oxygen mask.

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