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Our search for a user psychologist

 

I’ve been talking about this offline for long enough now. Time to put our search out there online and serious. At Mental Snapp we are looking for a psychologist to join the team initially on a freelance basis, who has their own experience of using mental health services. We are proud to be user led and run, as a diary service that helps people to manage their mental health independently, we know how important it is to tell and believe your own story. We need to have psychological expertise on our team, sure, but we don’t want to parachute in an expert and have our investors and backers breathe a sigh of relief – “It’s ok, they’ve got a professional involved”. No – that’s hypocrisy. The reason why we have credibility and have attracted members in the first place is that we have lived experience, we really know what it is like out there.

 

So – how hard can it be to find someone like that? Turns out, it’s far from easy. I’ve been actively looking in conversation and professional networking for well over a year. The difficulty of the search was summed up for me by a conversation I had with a trainee psychologist with his own lived experience. “I’ve never been encouraged to share it, I have to keep it secret” he said. And I thought when I spoke to psychiatrists about the ‘us and them’ problem in mental health I was just being paranoid – I was certainly treated as if I was.

 

It seems that the ‘us and them’ interface is alive and well in mental health, as per this Twitter strand I saw this morning. It attracted a fair few comments and retweets. Apparently the NHS doesn’t believe that one in 4 of its psychologists might have lived experience themselves – and if they can identify with their clients on a personal basis, they are discouraged from doing so. Terrible.

 

Let’s break this glass wall – it is a figment of the imagination. If you are a trained psychologist with lived experience and prepared to identify as such in your communication with our members and the Mental Snapp community, we want to hear from you. We value your skills and both parts of your identity – particularly the part that has been gained with the hard yards of personal experience. That’s what makes you not just an expert but a real human being.

 

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