Often I hear about support for mental illness and ending the stigma around it. That is fabulous and something we need to work on to be sure but what about pro active mental health? I find it so interesting that when I mention to someone in passing that myself or one of my daughters have been at a psychologist appointment that they either get awkwardly quiet or gently inquire if “everything is ok?”.
My daughters have always regularly visited a psychologist from a very young age even when “everything is ok”.
It is interesting that as a culture we accept and even expect a “good” parent to take their child regularly to a dentist and a doctor for regular pro active health care but we don’t seem to embrace that idea for mental health. We understand that a child must be seen and monitored by a physician even when they aren’t sick. We take them to the dentist for regular check ups even when there are no cavities sometimes for many visits in a row. But yet it seems that psychologist appointments are reserved for when there is a problem. Why is that? Why do we understand and believe in pro active care for physical health and not mental?
Psychologist appointments have been a regular part of health maintenance since my daughters were in elementary school. Many times we have the same conversation on the drive there and it goes something like this : “Mom, why am I even going? I have nothing to say.. I don’t even know what to say to her… Why am I going again?” I give the same answer every time. The answer is that you are going to say Hi. To check in and to build a relationship with another adult, a professional, that you can trust. Someday maybe everything wont be “ok” and then you can discuss the matter with the psychologist but it wont feel as clinical and overwhelming because you have already established a friendship and a trust relationship with her.
They both understand now and don’t ask anymore why we are going to the psychologist every few months and quite honestly they have come to enjoy it. Both of them drink tea now because of her!! It is wonderful! They go and catch up, have tea and a chat with a trusted friend and when they need to discuss things then they do. Raeanne is now 19 and Eve is 14 and I can tell you that things have not always been “ok”. There are times when we need to make an appointment every week when they desire to see the psychologist more often. I can tell you that as a parent I would not have wanted to parent without a good psychologist on my team. And also I did not find one that worked well for us right away. We tried a few before we found the perfect match for us. I would not have wanted to be looking for a good psychologist and trusted friend for my daughters when we were in the middle of dealing with something that was “not ok”.