Hi Word Spewer,

I appreciate the general sentiment of the article as well as, specifically, the desire to help others. While hygienic distancing and shelter-in-place protocols are being followed, helping others can be undertaken via what should now be referred to as “social distancing apps”.

In many cultures where there is (or at least has been) much more IRL non-posing chat between people, e.g. Spain and India, one can find a sympathetic ear to discuss problems as they come up, share experiences and learn from each other, possibly to get a broader perspective and to stave off growth of the problems. When that relationship is one of safety, when you know your interlocutor has you best interest at heart, their “home-truth telling” mouth complements the sympathetic ear.

I am a little concerned, however, about extending — to mental/emotional/psychological health situations of greater gravity — the idea that a non-professional who has professional support can themselves support others. All mental health practitioners themselves undergo counseling with a peer or mentor for various reasons. One reason is simply to check that their diagnosis and approach with the client follows current best practise. Another is to continually check on their own mental/emotional/psychological health.

There are various analogies you can use to help draw the line, or at least to realise that there is a line to be drawn: If you have take your bike to the shop to get fixed, does that qualify you to work on other people’s bikes? If you fix your own bike’s punctures or clean the chain, but take the bike in for alignment and greasing the bearings, where would you draw the line in helping other people with their bikes? For physical health, if you have a doctor you see for cuts, bruises, stitches, respiratory infections, soft tissue damage, broken bones etc., would you help others with similar problems?

Last question to think about: Is the professional who supports you okay with you supporting others?

I stop to miau to cats.

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