Interactions with People with Mental Illnesses

Interactions with People with Mental Illnesses

sunset sunrice

These past few years, after perpetual self-introspection, I noticed one particular aspect about myself. It was that, if I really felt up for it, I could engage and connect with people in a sincere manner. This quirk of mine has brought me in touch with people from all walks of life, but at the same time has also gotten me into trouble by over-connecting with lonely weird people (another story for another time).

Regardless, it has definitely come in handy during data collection for my final year thesis at the start of this year. I met a total of 65 strangers, half with mood and/or psychotic disorders. I went to hospitals, strangers’ homes, camped in public spaces, and spent an average of three hours, individually, with each of them.

Despite data collection having ended half a year ago, there were 3 occasions and individuals who were quite memorable. (And also 3 occasions when I over-stepped my boundaries in an effort to be sincere)

  1. A girl who told me she wanted to be an artist and handed me a drawing she did on the spot. I let her listen to a song I loved to remind her to keep strong (“Missing You – All Time Low”, in case you’re wondering).
  2. A middle-aged man who was so grateful towards me for listening to his life story he showed me his special back tattoo. It was of Ganesha the elephant god.  (I was soo worried one of us would get in trouble when he almost took his shirt off to show it to me).
  3. A young man who was distancing himself from everyone else. I knew I couldn’t fool his truth-seeking eyes so I tried to be as genuine as possible. I encouraged him to make friends and talk to the others…but by the end of the day it seems he ended up in a fight. (Oops)


As an aspiring psychologist, I can totally foresee one challenge I’d face is being too connected to a patient and not being able to keep my distance and maintain a professional relationship, instead of having a friendship. However, these were still really memorable events that I’d never forget!

Any and all comments are welcome!