Alysha Boekhoudt is a young woman in her late 20s, who graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Psychology only three years ago. Recently she is practicing her profession as a psychology here on Aruba, and at the same time is completing her Master’s of Science in Industrial and Organizational Psychology.
Alysha told our reporter that she didn’t always know that she would study psychology, but she always knew that she was very interested in human behavior and the reason behind certain decisions that people make. She also finds satisfaction in helping people. “Now that I’m working as a psychologist, I can say that the feeling of helping a person, be it something small or big, makes me very happy”, she says.
In the past, Alysha had a lot of interest in studying law as well, and she explains that this interest came from the side of her that likes to help people. Over time she decided that understanding of the reasons why a person acts a certain way can help the person better. At that moment she decided to study psychology.
For many people in Aruba, the topic of mental health is still taboo and it’s not something that is discussed openly. Alysha says that in a short time she sees an improvement, not only in Aruba but also globally, for mental health. She says that there is still a lot of improvement to be made so that this is no longer a taboo, which sadly it still is. “Little by little there is improvement, but we have a long way to go still”, she says.
Alysha explains different ways which in her professional opinion it is important to help create awareness in the Aruban community regarding mental health.
“One: stop the mentality that seeking help is for weak people. This begins when we are young. We have the mentality that if we seek help, we are not someone who can stand on their own, and this leaves grown people ashamed of seeking help.”
“Two: Stop teaching our children that expressing their emotions is bad. It’s okay to cry, it’s okay to get angry, and it’s okay to be afraid. If from a young age we are telling our children ‘stop crying, only babies cry’, it makes it so that when they’re older, they won’t express their emotions either.”
“Three: Create awareness in the community regarding the various mental problems that exist. Let the people know that they can seek help, at private clinics, or for free from them government.”
“Four: many of my clients, I realized, are afraid of taking medication. They believe that only ‘crazy’ people need medication, or only ‘crazy’ people need to see a psychologist. That is completely incorrect. Everyone can go through difficult times that require therapy or medication. This doesn’t make a person ‘crazy’. Even I and many other psychologists go to therapy with another psychologist. This is something super normal and super necessary.”
Alysha advices any person who might be struggling with their mental health not to wait until they can’t take it anymore to find help. “As soon as you realize that something is not right, seek help right away. Don’t be ashamed of seeking help either. There are many psychologists and psychiatrists in Aruba with a lot of experience, who can give help. Same as you are struggling with your issues, other people are also struggling with theirs. So never judge anyone, even if their life seems perfect.”