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Kaylie Thompson (she/her/hers)

Kaylie Thompson (she/her/hers)

Throughout my adolescence, I witnessed significant progress being made toward

destigmatizing mental illness and increasing accessibility to mental health treatment.

Being exposed to this movement of understanding and accepting mental health issues as valid, treatable conditions is what initially sparked my interest in the mental health field. I went into my undergraduate and graduate education knowing that I wanted to contribute to this progress, and eventually landed on mental health counseling as my career path to be able to do so.

Addiction and harm reduction became interests of mine during my graduate education. While there has been significant progress in the destigmatization of mental health issues, unfortunately, there is still a lot of stigma and shame surrounding substance use issues. Moreover, individuals struggling with substance use issues often struggle with co-occurring mental health issues as well. The pervasive stigma and shame surrounding substance use issues can make it incredibly difficult for individuals to seek help for any behavioral health issues they might be experiencing.

I have developed a deep appreciation for the harm reduction approach to substance use issues as it allows mental health professionals to meet clients where they are at and provide them with treatment that will actually benefit them at any given time throughout the course of addiction. It does not require that individuals struggling with substance use issues meet certain requirements to gain access to or be worthy of treatment; instead, it promotes a nonjudgmental, safe environment for individuals to seek help for substance use and/or mental health issues when they are ready while still remaining as safe as possible while in active addiction. I believe that this is crucial in working toward destigmatizing and treating both substance use and mental health issues, and I aim to contribute to bridging this gap in progress throughout my counseling journey.

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