One on one... with Saida Melgar
One thing psychology could do better
I wish there was more funding for art and mental wellbeing research. I am glad that the evidence base is increasing, with many promising pieces of research. This is an area where England is much more ahead than my home country, Finland, where art therapy is still very much seen as ´hippie nonsense´.
One book that inspired me
The New Laws of Psychology by Peter Kinderman (2014) was recommended to us before starting the psychology bachelor’s degree. The book challenged everything I was taught about mental illness which helped me start my studies with a more open perspective.
One nugget of advice for aspiring psychologists
Take risks and get real hands-on experience from different fields. I have learned most when working with individuals of different ages and conditions. It has also helped me realise what I want from my career. Not every job I tried was pleasant, but each one widened my perspective. You do not have to know your career path when you graduate from university, it is okay to try things out for a little longer than your peers. You do not have to achieve everything before you are 30 to be successful in life.
That humankind realises that strength is not surviving alone but being able to ask for help when needed. I am glad to see visible mental health campaigns trying to break the stigma and encouraging people to speak out loud. The modern world puts so much emphasis on independence that sometimes we might feel that we are a failure if we do not survive alone.
One proud moment
Graduating from a psychology degree. When I decided to apply to a British university, I was told that I was chasing something impossible. No-one believed I could even get in, let alone graduate. They made me doubt myself. There were multiple times when I was close to giving up, ready to pack my bags and move back to Finland. But I didn’t. I started my degree after being away from education for six years, I was the first from my family to go to university and I have dyslexia. Still, I managed to complete my degree in a country where I did not know anyone and in a language I barely spoke.
One article from The Psychologist
‘Why are life events troubling?’ by Ruth Spence, Lisa Kagan and Antonia Bifulco (June 2019). It is important to remember that people experience the same events in different ways – negative events may not be as negative for everyone. I am pleased to see that more sophisticated frameworks have been created to further understand the impact of negative life events.
One thing that has helped my studies
I have studied psychology in two languages, English and Finnish, and I think that is a strength. Where one language has one word meaning multiple things, the other language may have one word for each meaning. Translating between languages has been very useful for understanding theories. Back in upper secondary school in Finland I never quite understood when we spoke about different selves. Years later in university, it all opened up to me when I learned the same concept in English. In the Finnish language we do not have me, myself and I, we only have one word to describe all of them.
Mika’s ‘No Place in Heaven’ (2015) was released when I was going through big changes. I was questioning the choices I had made. This album spoke to me and gave me so much strength to get to know myself and find out what I want. After that I decided to move to England and pursue a career in psychology.
One alternative career path
I have always wanted to share the joy of dance. I’ve worked as an instructor and performed a lot. During my studies, I discovered the healing power of dance. My dissertation focused on its benefits for mental wellbeing. In future, I want to qualify as a dance therapist.
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