Clinical Associate Professor of Psychology Dr. David Castro-Blanco on Mental Health Awareness and Services
Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in May in the United States since 1949. Medaille College’s robust Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, which offers clinical mental health counseling, marriage & family therapy and clinical psychology programs, understands that mental health awareness is important every day, not just for one month.
Clinical Associate Professor of Psychology David Castro-Blanco, Ph.D., joined the Medaille faculty in January 2018, and later that year, he assumed the roles of Director of Clinical Training and Clinical Assessment Coordinator for the doctoral program in clinical psychology (PsyD). He also serves as co-chair of the Ethnic Racial Diversity Committee at National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology (NCSPP).
Here, Dr. Castro-Blanco describes the importance of mental health awareness, offers insight on handling stress, and speaks about how Medaille’s counseling and clinical psychology programs are addressing a need in the local community.
Why is mental health awareness so important?
Mental health awareness is really nothing more than health awareness. There's considerable research tying mental and physical health, and it would be a mistake to separate the two. Mental illness costs society time lost at work, costs for treatment and, most importantly, lives. The more aware we all are of mental health and illness, the more effectively we can protect the well-being of all of us.
What makes the programs in Medaille's Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology so invaluable in our local community?
The Western New York, Ontario and Northern Pennsylvania regions are underserved in having mental health services available. Medaille's counseling and clinical psychology programs, especially the doctoral program in clinical psychology, are training people from this region to meet a need here and work here.
What are some of your favorite aspects about Medaille’s PsyD program?
I appreciate our diverse student body and the fact that some PsyD students commute from as far as Syracuse, Pennsylvania and Toronto. Our students want the training and are extremely committed and dedicated. The faculty also create an enjoyable and welcoming atmosphere for all.
How does the knowledge and experience you have gained as a practicing, licensed psychologist affect the content or methods you use to teach future clinicians?
Being able to use some of the real-life applied lessons makes instruction a lot more relevant, because you are not just teaching theory from a book. Students are more interested in learning from someone who has lived what they are learning.
Coming from a psychology-based background, what do you find is the best way to achieve a work/life balance?
Balance is an inapt word. Work shouldn’t take away from life — it should add to it. With the right perspective, work should also give us a greater appreciation for family and personal time.
What is the best way to cope with or handle stress?
Find someone you trust and actually talk about it. Hearing yourself talk oftentimes provides some answers. Keeping problems or stressors to yourself can magnify them, but talking to someone you trust can be therapeutic.
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