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A Guide to being a Mental Health Professional

Discussion in 'Tutorials & Information' started by lozzatron, Jun 27, 2019.

  1. lozzatron

    lozzatron Bartender

    Hi All,

    You'll have to forgive my shocking formatting as I haven't actually used a forum in a long time. I can make edits if it'll help readability or clarity.

    I am not a doctor, I am not providing medical advice. I'm going to provide some tips for playing as a counsellor/psychiatrist/mentalist in character and that is it. These don't translate to the real world but will help believability in character. Nothing else - don't @ me.

    First thing's first - consider your role. If you are a psychiatrist that means you are a medical doctor who specialises in mental health. This means that you are able to diagnose mental health conditions and prescribe medication. If you are a counsellor you can NOT diagnose mental health conditions but you can provide your patient with an opinion of what mental health condition their symptoms seem to be related to. Your role as a counsellor would instead be to deliver therapeutic support to people who are experiencing mental distress or have an established mental health condition.

    As a psychiatrist you might complete an evaluation of somebody's mental health. In game it is unlikely that somebody would have a mental health condition which would severely impact their role as this is against server rules. They may have a fluctuating mild to moderate mental health condition which can be managed with therapy or medication. Examples could include Anxiety, depression, OCD or even well-managed schizophrenia - more on that later. If a player's background indicates this then you would likely want to review their records and hit them up for a review to ensure that they are still doing okay and are fit to work. In real life psychiatrists tend to focus more on the medicalization of mental health and so you might want to play your role as detached, scientific, procedural and by the book. Your job is to find symptoms and to apply those symptoms to your knowledge to find a medical solution. Citalopram is available in-game which is a good go-to. You can deliver therapy if you wish to but you're more likely to be taking a more objective role.

    As a counsellor you are more likely to take a psychologic and social approach to mental health. You are likely to be much more interested in talking to people for an extended period of time. You're likely to want to uncover any trauma that they experienced (google trauma model, this would be good to understand) and to talk to people about key stages in their lives, their attachment to their primary caregiver (attachment theory) and anything that they attribute as a causal factor in their distress. This would be part of the initial assessment stage. You could then consider delivering therapy. You can google types of therapy to get a flavour of what they would entail, it doesn't by any means need to be perfect but if you get a quick overview of cognitive behavioural therapy, dialectic behavioural therapy, compassion focussed therapy, exposure and response prevention for example then these may provide a framework for good RP. Try not to focus too much on diagnosis here as your role is to alleviate mental distress.


    Schizophrenia - so many folks who have delusions, for example hearing voices or seeing things which aren't there, are able to manage these successfully. They may be able to live a full, healthy and productive life with the presence of voices in their head and may be able to incorporate these into their internal thought processes. If someone talks about hearing voices that isn't necessarily cause for alarm unless the voices are telling them to do something (command hallucinations) or if they are becoming distressed by them. Many people experience paranoia or grandeoisity - this is less likely to be good rp from the player as I said it is likely that it would enter territory where it's against server rules to play that character. Then again if a character has been managing their condition for a very long time but it has suddenly fluctuated or they have had a relapse then this may well be acceptable roleplay, in which case you would want to talk them through their experiences without trying too hard to convince them that it's 'all in their head' and make a decision as to how to manage it from a human resources point of view.


    TALK TO PEOPLE: the majority of work that is done in real life is through talking. When in doubt allow the person to lead the discussion and talk about what they consider to be important. Be kind and gentle, but firm when necessary.

    A few things not to do
    • Do not be trigger happy with sedation unless someone is very poorly and is physically at risk of causing harm to themselves or someone else
    • Do not sign someone off their job at the first hint of mental health difficulties. You need to do a full assessment and make an informed decision
    • Stigmatise or shame people for their feelings

    As a player in a HRP server please be mindful of being respectful both for the purpose of doing your job properly from a RP standpoint and from playing with others in a respectful environment where mental health conditions aren't treated like a joke or heavily stigmatised.

    Playing a shit professional
    Naturally some folks might wish to play a bad mental health professional. Some tips for doing it without going overboard:
    • Interrupt your client
    • Don't listen to them
    • Make assumptions about their experiences
    • Sound bored or disinterested
    • Try to rush the conversation to its conclusion
    • Diagnose quickly without trying to get an understanding of the full circumstances
    Suicide -
    Some characters might come to you expressing suicidal thoughts and feelings. As an aside I would recommend caution when engaging in these discussions from both a patient standpoint and a counsellor standpoint. It's so easy to get wrong. If you feel confident enough in engaging in this roleplay then I would always recommend informing the CMO. The main thing is to listen to the person's experiences, don't sound the alarms immediately and provide them with a space where they feel safe to talk.

    If anything gets uncomfortable, if the RP is bad or if another player is behaving poorly then always ahelp.

    Thanks for reading and further questions or suggestions are welcome


     
    Roth and thebest_player757 like this.
  2. My_names_jayy

    My_names_jayy Bartender

    Thank you so much for this! I’m planning on playing a bad psychiatrist and I wasn’t sure how to. I love this guide!