Millennium Mental Health

I almost became a psychiatrist… but I didn’t.  I liked the lifestyle, I found the pharmacology interesting, and I loved the outsider patient population.  Most of all, I wanted to take up the fight and dedicate my career towards a modern day plague.

I couldn’t commit to psychiatry, largely because I felt that I would lose the fight.  The drugs have devastating side effects and low success rates.  Relapses are common.  Patients are hard to reach.  Heck, after 4 years of medical school, I don’t even know what mental health is.  What I do know is that our current system is lacking. 

I hear a lot along the lines of “we need more mental health resources” or “our government/schools/hospitals/etc need to do more for the mentally ill” or even “we need good mental health workers.”  Sounding off reinforces the status quo.  I would prefer to start over in attempts thinking outside the box.  I don’t have answers, but sometimes questions are a good place to start. 

  • Why haven’t we found effective strategies to assuage mental illness?
  • What is the line between emotion and illness; sadness and depression?
  • Why do proven therapies still carry a stigma?
  • Is the violence epidemic in the USA also related to the mental health problem? What about homelessness?  Joblessness?

As for me and my career, I stayed true to my adrenaline-seeking, problem-solving, grunge-gravitating personality and chose emergency medicine.  My residency is 3 years.  I will surely see a lot of mental illness in the emergency department and that is, in fact, why I chose emergency medicine.  I want to see and do all that I can for those with no other place to go, especially the mentally ill.  By the end of my 3 years, I doubt I will have any more answers than I do now, but I hope to ask more questions and push to change the paradigm surrounding mental illness.


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