Written by: Tiffany Bartell
Editor’s note: The following articles are written by counseling professionals from Counseling Services in partnership with the Southern Accent.
One of the most commonly asked questions I am asked is, “What made you want to become a counselor?”
For me, the journey to becoming a counselor was not a straight line. I’ve always enjoyed connecting with and helping people, so I decided in high school to go into human resources.
In college, when I was almost done with my degree in business, I started working in HR. While I enjoyed it, it did not feel as though I’d found my place in the world. Fast forward, and I went back to school and finished an undergraduate degree in psychology and a master’s in counseling. And now I am working on my doctorate.
The reason that I am a counselor is simply that I love people. I’m fortunate enough to have found a job where I can come in each day and do something that I love. That is my story, but everyone has their own. Here are a few reasons why others have decided to enter the mental health field.
Kim Daniel is one of our graduate counseling interns. When asked why she wants to work in mental health, she shared that she worked in different fields and enjoyed them, but something felt missing. Kim looked back over the work that she enjoyed the most and felt fulfilled by and realized she enjoyed having a job where she was always learning, helping others and connecting with them, as well as being part of bigger change.
“I had a lot of times growing up when my mental health was not a positive situation, and I had a lot of people who didn’t understand,” Daniel said. “I finally started learning about [mental health] and found people who could have those conversations with me. I felt understood, and I want to be that for other people.”
In the Counseling Services department, we also have graduate social work interns. Beatrice Ngugi grew up in South Africa and shared that, where she lived, mental health was not understood or validated.
“If anyone told you that they were depressed, it was taken flippantly,” Ngugi said. It was not until I came to the United States that I felt depressed and homesick. I didn’t know what to do with it, and I wish I had. I know people back home also experience depression, and I want to be part of helping them.”
Hadassah Jackson, another one of our social work interns, shared that she chose to go into the mental health field after witnessing how mental health struggles could significantly affect individuals and could even cause physical illness.
“I decided to go into the mental health field because I believe it is just as important as our physical health,” Jackson said. “I want to spread awareness that counseling is for everyone.”
These are some of the reasons why we chose the mental health field and love to serve the students here at Southern. If you are interested in pursuing a life calling in the field of mental health, we encourage you to not only prioritize your own mental health, but to reach out to some of the programs on campus to see how you can be equipped for a rewarding career in this field.