Community//

Dmitri Oster of One World Counseling: “Mental health”

I like to be able to schedule downtime for myself. I find it helps me to regenerate and actually refocus on my work, goals and vision. I like to be in nature, and explore off-road driving territories. Going on an off-road trip both energizes and relaxes me at the same time. I have to use […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

I like to be able to schedule downtime for myself. I find it helps me to regenerate and actually refocus on my work, goals and vision. I like to be in nature, and explore off-road driving territories. Going on an off-road trip both energizes and relaxes me at the same time. I have to use my wits to navigate an unknown and sometimes difficult territory, but almost always enjoy the bountiful views of untamed nature.


As a part of my series about “Mental Health Champions” helping to normalize the focus on mental wellness, I had the pleasure to interview Mr. Dmitri Oster, the founding Director of One World Counseling; a community-based outpatient treatment agency located in Brooklyn, New York. He is also a licensed clinical social worker, supervisor and psychotherapist. Dmitri also hosts an online radio show called Psycho-Social Radio, which airs every Friday from 3–4 pm EST on Radio Free Brooklyn.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?

I always had an interest in human psychology and the social sciences. For as long as I can remember I was interested in studying disciplines endeavoring to understand more about the human psyche and the mind. As I began to study and practice the arts and science of mental health work in many of its different forms, I found myself being drawn to newer approaches and novel ways of working with an ever increasing focus on positive psychology and innovations in the field.

According to Mental Health America’s report, over 44 million Americans have a mental health condition. Yet there’s still a stigma about mental illness. Can you share a few reasons you think this is so?

For so many of us living in a conditioned and judgmental society, we have come to associate “mental health” as something immediately pathological and disturbing. Unfortunately, popular culture has had a lot to do with vilifying individuals with mental health conditions. This is, gratefully, changing a lot these days as broader sections of society are beginning to realize that mental health and well-being is something that impacts everybody and is not simply reserved for a subset of the population that has “problems”.

Can you tell our readers about how you are helping to de-stigmatize the focus on mental wellness?

I believe fundamentally in the benefit of tending to one’s own mental health and wellbeing. I truly see this as a positive endeavor, and every interaction that I have with a client, community, or industry is informed by this perspective. When I speak about mental wellness, I very rarely use technical or “pathology-talk” because that hardly ever facilitates a conversation and is actually a case of intellectual laziness, in my opinion. When I speak about mental health and wellness, I am generally trying to progress an understanding of the issue that is being talked about; whether that relates to an emotional, psychological, behavioral or societal issue and so forth. I generally use language and words which share a common understanding to explain or “unpack” oftentimes complicated sets of behaviors. In doing this, there is less of a focus on pathology, and more on delivering an understanding that is accessible to all.

Was there a story behind why you decided to launch this initiative?

Absolutely. The guiding mission and vision for One World Counseling is to make counseling and treatment services available to as wide a segment of our overall population as possible. In particular, we do a lot of outreach and work with newer immigrant populations in the New York area. I have found that keeping the focus on positive psychology and emotional empowerment tends to gain a much quicker and deeper appreciation with immigrant populations than does a focus on pathology and mental illness.

This same principle was also behind my initiative to start Psycho-Social Radio.

I play a lot of underground music; in particular, hardcore and punk music. And, I try to play music that somehow has a positive message as well and to explore messages of hope and inspiration on my weekly radio show. By doing this, my hope is that as many listeners as possible will hear a message that helps to normalize issues of psychological or emotional concern rather than just ignore it as something meaningless.

https://www.oneworldcounseling.org/

In your experience, what should a) individuals b) society, and c) the government do to better support people suffering from mental illness?

I think it would be helpful if people begin to appreciate that mental health and wellbeing are situated on a wide-ranging continuum. It is so important to be able to differentiate where on the mental wellbeing continuum a person is and what they are doing to take care of themselves. There are a number of resources available to individuals that have a mental health concern and if we see people from all backgrounds who access such resources as potential assets rather than liabilities, we can begin to move in a direction that acknowledges the strength of mental health and wellbeing as opposed to the fear and misunderstanding that is sometimes attributed to it.

What are your 6 strategies you use to promote your own wellbeing and mental wellness? Can you please give a story or example for each?

I like to be able to schedule downtime for myself. I find it helps me to regenerate and actually refocus on my work, goals and vision. I like to be in nature, and explore off-road driving territories. Going on an off-road trip both energizes and relaxes me at the same time. I have to use my wits to navigate an unknown and sometimes difficult territory, but almost always enjoy the bountiful views of untamed nature.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a mental health champion?

There are some thought-provoking writings from the contemporary period which I personally like to re-visit and read. These include: Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning”, the writings of Martin Buber, in particular “I and Thou”, some of the philosophical texts of Emmanuel Levinas, and much of the writings by person-centered clinicians and European existential psychotherapists such as Ernesto Spinelli.

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

Intimacy Through Improved Communication!

by Teresa Hawley-Howard
Community//

The Benefits of Music Therapy in Recovery

by Lynn Smythe
Community//

Mental Health Champions: “The only healthy form of comparison comes from comparing ourselves to where we used to be in life.” with Dana McNeil and Chaya Weiner

by Yitzi Weiner at Authority Magazine
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.