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Interviewing Peter Fonagy

A few weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to interview Peter Fonagy as part of the #LetsTalkMentalHealth series by Louise Arseneault. Peter is a renowned clinical psychologist specialising in early attachment disorder and borderline personality disorder and CEO of the Anna Freud centre. Having returned from visiting Pakistan the night before, I was super nervous to be meeting and interviewing such a respected mental health professional, especially after reading his 72 page CV highlighting the long list of achievements and publications in his career thus far.

I was immediately reassured as Peter was friendly, welcoming and incredibly humble as soon we were introduced. Despite me interviewing him, Peter was really keen to ask about my experience of mental health services and how this differed from his experiences of using mental health services as a teenager. Very quickly, it became apparent that we had more in common than I thought. Peter originally comes from Hungary and shared his experiences of living in a society completely alien to what he had ever experienced when he immigrated to the UK, and how this affected his mental health. This was much like my experience of being British Asian and growing up struggling to find a balance between the two cultures that defined me as a person. I felt so comfortable in opening up about my mental health experiences and what aided my recovery, and we were able to share our different experiences of services and mental health and our opinions on the future of mental health services and research.

He was incredibly humorous and expressed his opinion on the role of Robert Stephenson inventing steam locomotives in the breakup of nuclear families, and how this had impacted the increase in mental health in children and young people, as well as the current need for help to parents in bringing up children – an interesting viewpoint to say the least!

 

His passion for children and young people’s mental health and expanding upon academic opportunities available for young people in the mental health field is really encouraging for young people with an interest in pursuing a mental health career. By the end of the interview, Peter’s words of wisdom left me feeling incredibly motivated for my future and career in the mental health field. I truly believe that there is something everyone can learn from watching the interview whether you are a young person or an established professional.