We interviewed Psychiatrist, Dr. Suzanna Chen! She is a board-certified MD psychiatrist who owns her own private boutique practice in Manhattan, New York. Learn more about her take on mental Health!
Question: What is the main focus of your job & how many years of schooling did it take? What’s your favorite part of your job?
Answer: The main focus of my job is to improve mental health. I work to enhance and maximize wellness, and not just treat illness. I mainly do this through therapy and lifestyle changes. I can also add medications in some cases, only if appropriate and truly needed. In terms of school and training; it took 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, and then 4 years of residency. However, this is an exciting and an ever changing field and it is good to continue to learn throughout your whole career. I do this through attending conferences, attending talks, and reading new research. My favorite part is making a positive difference in people's lives.
Question: What inspired you to choose this career path?
Answer: People's stories. I am always in awe and humbled with the privilege of being there with others, through the ups and downs. This career lets me combine science and creativity. It is what satisfies my ikigai, combining what I love, what I am good at, what can help the world, and what can be a profession.
Question: What does “mental health” mean to you?
Answer:Mental health for me is part of the whole human being, just like physical health. To me this also means that it can be worked on and improved as part of general self care.
Question: What do you think is the best way to spread mental health awareness?
Answer: In whatever way we can. This can look different for each one of us, whether it is by just being there for one of our good friends or whether it is by joining organizations and advocating for public policy changes. For me personally, I try to do this in a variety of ways. I explain how great mental health self-care is to people I know. I use social media to increase mental health awareness and reduce stigma since that's what many people use and I can reach a bigger population. I also presented at the United Nations to try to reach a more global population.
Question: Tell us about how you approach counseling/treatment and how you individualize treatment for a client.
Answer: I look at each person's story, each situation, and each goal. Each human is different and there's no one-size-fits-all for the complexity of the human experience.
Question: How do you help a patient/student maintain positive growth?
Answer: Just like physical activity and healthy eating is a continuous process, positive mental health growth is a continuous process. Through therapy I try to pass on the skills that will persevere forever and will be useful no matter what comes up in the future.
Question: How would you describe the path to recovery of mental health in terms length and difficulty?
Answer: Each path is unique to the person and the situation, so there's a large variation in length and difficulty.
Question: You notice a change in your friend’s behavior and they tell you they feel helpless. How would you respond?
Answer: It depends on the situation. But in general I would start with being there and listening to my friend. I would want them to know that they aren't alone and that they are being heard. I would also want to try to make sure my friend is safe, as that is a priority. Additionally, just as I would support that my friend go to their own dentist and get the professional treatment that they deserve if their tooth hurts, I would also support that they get help from a mental health professional if professional evaluation and treatment is needed.
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