Internship Reflection: My Journey at Mindside
4 Minutes Read Written by: Michelle Tong
To many psychology undergraduates who desire to pursue a career as a mental health professional, getting an opportunity to intern at a mental health organisation feels like an impossible dream. I was extremely fortunate to have secured a short but fruitful internship experience at Mindside. My role as an intern involved a good balance between frontend work at the clinic and backend operations of Mindside. For onsite duties, I shadowed Mindside’s counsellor, Jesslyn, and sat in during counselling sessions to observe how therapy was conducted. I also assisted patients at the clinic and administered psychological assessments for patients using clinically validated tools such as the PHQ-4. For backend work, I mainly conducted desktop research, developing content related to mental health topics for Mindside’s social media platforms.
These diverse roles allowed me to gain a holistic experience and understanding of the processes involved in providing mental health services. During the counselling session, I caught a glimpse of the rigour and intensity of a mental health professional’s job. I also witnessed how classroom knowledge and psychological therapy skills are applied in real life. After every session, Jesslyn would have a mini-case discussion with me. This pushed me to think critically and reflect on the counselling session. For instance, I reflected and analysed what techniques were applied and what other methods could be incorporated to enhance future sessions. Mindside’s priority of providing patient-centred care sharpened my critical and creative thinking skills. I learned to observe the patient’s body language and exercised active listening. Piecing together the information helped identify their needs and appropriate therapy techniques to explore in follow-up sessions. Moreover, Jesslyn has been very open and supportive of my inputs and suggestions, enabling me to contribute to therapy sessions actively.
This shadowing opportunity allowed me to experience the complexity and demandingness of a mental health professional’s job. More importantly, it made me realise that learning to detach from work is crucial to preventing emotional burnout in this helping profession. Thus, I was prompted to explore ways to practice self-care and start building up skills that will help sustain my own mental well-being. Although mentally taxing, it was extremely rewarding to see patients cope better over time or even be discharged from therapy.
Besides contributing to the frontline, I recognised the importance of educating the general public on mental health and mental illness topics. This perspective was reinforced when patients avoided doing the PHQ-4 assessment because it was mental health-related or when patients exhibited low mental health literacy during therapy sessions. To close this gap and raise awareness, I researched, developed and disseminated bite-sized content related to mental health topics via Mindside’s social media posts. On top of deepening my knowledge regarding mental health, I honed my skills in delivering academic content to the general audience in a concise and easy-to-understand manner without compromising its accuracy.
I am also extremely grateful to work in a multidisciplinary team with caring members who fostered a highly collaborative environment where everyone’s input was valued. For instance, my suggestion to design a Mascot for Mindside was taken seriously and I was given the opportunity to expand on this idea. I also received constructive feedback to improve on the design. I am glad to be part of Mindside and value add to this meaningful initiative. Through this internship, I have a newfound perspective that contributing to mental health is not merely limited to frontline work. In fact, the system supporting frontline mental health professionals is equally as crucial. It is an ecosystem involving multiple stakeholders and there are various ways for one to play a part in promoting mental health. This summer internship was more than what I could ask for and it definitely further fuelled my passion to pursue a career in the mental health industry. In the meantime, before I gain the qualification to work as a mental health professional, I am inspired to continue raising awareness of mental health within my means.