When Brandon Eddy was an undergraduate at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, a part-time job in a hospital radiology clinic led him to a career in mental health therapy.
He saw the anguish of women, and their husbands, who found out through X-ray procedures that the woman’s fully blocked fallopian tubes were causing infertility. And he saw the emotional distress of couples who learned an ectopic pregnancy, where a fertilized egg grows outside the main cavity of the uterus, had to be ended. “People would break down crying.”
“It occured to me,” he says, “that in some people’s greatest time of need, they didn’t get the emotional help they needed. These good people were showing that the gap between physical and mental health had to be bridged.”
Today, Dr. Eddy -- he specialized in couple and marriage and family therapy on his way to a PhD from Texas Tech University-- is an assistant professor and internship coordinator for the Couple and Family Therapy Program in the UNLV School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health.
He also supervises interns who work at the UNLV Center for Individual, Couple and Family Counseling Clinic on the university main campus.
He stresses that all students, not just undergraduates, can access care at the clinic at no cost. UNLV staff and faculty, as well as members of the community, are able to receive therapy on a sliding scale depending on income. Clients cannot receive medication at the clinic, but can be given a list of places where medications are available.
At the campus clinic, Eddy says many students come in for help while struggling with a new educational phase in their lives.
“Others come for depression or anxiety. Others come to learn how to communicate better with their loved ones. There are a vast amount of reasons people come into therapy. We work to help them better manage anxiety, increase coping skills. Although there is still a stigma around mental health and seeking help, that stigma is becoming less of a deterrent than in the past. Once people realize that therapy doesn’t mean you’re broken, that therapy is just sitting down and discussing solutions to your problems...it becomes much less anxiety- provoking for them. Some people just need a tuneup. We have physical healthcare checkups, take our cars in for servicing, our phones get updates, so a mental health checkup shouldn’t be that unusual. Therapists are just regular everyday people who are trained to help others. Therapy isn’t a place you come to be judged. Therapists validate your struggles and help you along your journey.”
In general, Eddy says men are more hesitant to discuss their feelings. “It’s not an easy thing for many people, but gender expectations placed upon men can definitely exacerbate the problem. Women are conditioned and expected to share their feelings more and discuss emotional struggles more. Men are often told not to express certain kinds of feelings, to tough it out, handle things themselves. Societal expectations or traditional gender roles play a large role in this...You can see it beginning at the playground. A boy falls down and his dad tells his son to be tough and rub dirt on it when he’s hurt. If a daughter falls down, she’s told, “Come here so I can give you a hug and we’ll put a Band-Aid on it.” One is taught to nurture, the other to be tougher. But I think we’re trending in a more positive direction today.’