For years I’ve been following the long-standing internet mental health resource PsychCentral (getting the articles on my facebook feed through the website called ‘This Emotional Life’) because I felt it was important to stay informed about what the general public is being told about disorders and treatment. But today I decided that I’m not going to do it anymore, because it is just too upsetting to see one poorly-written article after another spreading misinformation and increasing stigma. I have already complained about two PsychCentral articles on this blog in the last two weeks, and then this week two other articles written by mental health professionals were quite disturbing to me. I tried expressing my point of view, but the authors’ condescending, dismissive replies to my comments made the whole process seem increasingly futile.
I feel ready to conclude that what the general public is being told about disorders and treatment on PsychCentral is quite often ill-informed and irresponsible. These mental health professionals writing for the website seem only interested in seeking public sympathy and admiration for the work they do – while also seeming to neglect their ethical and professional obligations to be concerned for the best interest of their clients.
The recurring problems I’ve found in PsychCentral articles include:
- completely ignoring the research literature, including major strides made in the mental health field in the last 30 years
- strong disdain towards clients and a willingness to make cruel, stigmatizing generalizations about them
- a burned-out attitude toward much of the therapeutic process
- refusal to acknowledge that managing one’s own stress and burnout – in order to prevent burdening, neglecting or harming clients — is actually a basic requirement of one’s job as a therapist
- complete disregard for how the things flippantly said in these articles could have repercussions for public opinion and the well-being of individuals
So, in spite of my best intentions to stay “in the loop,” I’ve come to realize that doing so is keeping me trapped more than informed. I’ve seen enough of what the typical public discourse about mental health looks like and it is just too awful to take.
I was reluctant to post these links because I don’t necessarily want to encourage people to read these articles, but in case you want to know what articles I was reacting to, here they are. Note that both articles have been substantially revised since their original publication, and these are not the versions I was reacting to. In fact the first one, which has now been edited to say that it is about working with clients with antisocial personality disorder, used to be about clients with (all) personality disorders. In the second one, specific sentences that I had responded to in my comments on the article are no longer there.
- Hammond, C. (2015). http://pro.psychcentral.com/exhausted-woman/2015/08/14-safeguards-for-therapists-working-with-personality-disorders/
- Hill, T. (2015). http://blogs.psychcentral.com/caregivers/2015/08/mental-health-professionals-6-reasons-why-they-are-only-human/