Giving Psychology Away: Mental Health and the Coronavirus
A few years ago, the final exam of my doctoral qualification involved an interview with a board of psychologists. I was asked to explain my approach to counselling psychology. I needed to think reflectively about why I’m in this job, and what it is I’m setting out to do.
There was one concept that I was most passionate about. This was the idea of ‘giving psychology away’. Introduced by George Miller in his presidential address to the American Psychological Association in 1969, he said:
“The secrets of our trade need not be reserved for highly trained specialists. Psychological facts should be passed out freely to all who need and can use them. There simply are not enough psychologists… to meet every need for psychological services. The people at large will have to be their own psychologists, and make their own applications of the principles that we establish."
The recent worldwide developments of Covid-19 have turned our lives upside down. I don’t think there has been a time for generations when anxiety and panic has spread on such a global scale. There is so much about this situation that is unknown, and that is something that us humans tend to struggle with. We like certainty, we feel safe with it and we thrive in it. But in life we don’t always have it, and right now that’s truer than ever.
First and foremost, we must look after our physical health and the health of those around us. But most of us know it’s important to look after our mental health too. We realise that this pandemic is going to affect the most vulnerable among us, those with existing mental health challenges, those who are already isolated and those who may become so through the circumstances. We are all worried about our health, our families, our communities, our livelihoods, our governments, and our own coping abilities.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. With the right guidance and support, we can all find a way through this with our mental health fully intact.
With this in mind, now more than ever it’s time to give psychology away. I’ll use this blog, along with my social media pages, to share psychological knowledge, advice, tips and strategies that I think might help people through these trying times.
None of this is supposed to replace the individualised care and advice of your own mental health professionals and I would always encourage you to seek this out if you need it. But I do hope I can give some ideas to help people stay calm and to trust in their own resilience, during this pandemic and beyond. It’s now time to be your own psychologist, and I’ll show you how.
Keep an eye out for more to come. Meanwhile, look after yourselves and remember, we’re all in this together.