January 15, 2021

We Need to Change our Mental Health System.


When I was seven, I wanted to be a news anchor for Komo 4 News in Seattle, just like Kathy Goertzen.

After accidentally supergluing my right eye shut in the sixth grade, I changed this aspiration and dreamt of being an eye doctor instead—to help scared children, like I was, open their eye again.

When I heard someone close to me in high school call a Mexican a “wetback,” I made a firm decision to go to college instead—to be a high school Spanish teacher.

This idea changed again after I studied linguistics and my grandfather died of Parkinson’s. I then decided to move to New York City to become a bilingual speech-language pathologist.

And when losing my beloved therapist felt the way it does to lose a parent, I set off to study psychology.

Fast forward several years, and my eye doctor still remembers that awful day and my career dreams are changing once again.

Some people may think I change careers too quickly or don’t know what I want, but this is far from the truth.

You see, I want to help people, and when I say this, I don’t mean it by way of toxic positivity or going abroad to walk with a few hungry children for a week.

What I mean is, I want to take a complex problem and find leveraging points.

I want positive change to be collaborative.

I want everyone to have a voice.

I want inequity to end.

I want to take our mental health system’s approach to working with patients and flip it on its head.

I want the way clients are perceived to not be based on ethnicity or diagnosis.

You see, Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “A riot is the language of the unheard,” and he was right.

I riot through writing, and I won’t stop until my voice is heard.

We need to change our mental health system.

We need to improve collaboration with patients and listen to them when they say, “No,” “This doesn’t work for me,” or “I disagree.”

No more terminating patients when you feel it is “your choice.”

No more demanding clients sign release of information forms in order to see you.

No more therapists saying you can only see one therapist if you truly feel you need two.

No more therapists claiming to be “trauma-informed” when they don’t know the first thing about childhood trauma.

You see, when I was seven, I wanted to be a News Anchor.

Now I want to be a professor who fights for the voices of all individuals who struggle with mental health.

These are our own minds and our bodies.

We’ve been taking care of ourselves for a long time.

We respect you, so please also respect us.

We can make our own decisions when it comes to both our bodies and our minds.

Let us join your table so that we can work together.


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