Comfortable and Furious

Working in Mental Health Might Ruin Your Mental Health

(RIP Mark Fisher, who called out our current Capitalism-inflamed mental healthcare nightmare before taking his own life fifteen years ago.)

You have been through this compassion-fueled application machine before.

Chewed up, spat out, sucked back in, further masticated, coughed up as a thrashing babe terrified of the rising sun. The whole fucking point was to help other people with mental illness and…Christ weren’t you naive?


It’s okay. I promise. There is room for all of us. Please give me some of your time? I promise to show that we were, and still are, decent human beings, and Capital is the real bastard. Okay? Hang on tight.

It starts with the first half-dozen “onboarding” emails. Riddled with bad grammar, misspellings and dogshit writing. You question applying for this work, regardless of the nonprofit’s pop-star cache.

But wait— hold on— you didn’t even apply for what the feedback implies. You literally applied for another job listing, maybe to craft marketing copy, balance accounting books, or manage manpower and feed some spreadsheet, somewhere. You may have applied for janitorial work— another tough and honorable trade— and wound up with this boilerplate swill.

AND THEN you were funneled through a mortifying “job fair” where a person with all the subtlety of the Kool-Aid Man on bath salts, wasted the solitary afternoon that you could barely offer, between your (choose the multiplier that suits) part-time jobs.

You came in with a serious resume, references, a crisp skirt or shirt or shoes and, after walking through a wheezing door on asthmatic hinges, your stomach dropped just as it did when, back in the 2000’s, the umpteenth trust fund nerd coined the word “monetize.”

“What a dump!” Yes. Thank you, Ms. Davis.

Such a dump, in fact, that nearby traffic roars through the rice paper walls so loud you can barely hear voices in adjacent stalls “conducting interviews.”

A Matty reminder: this feels off because your gut is a dead-game bloodhound allergic to horseshit; the person on the other side of this bad joke IKEA slab is terrified that you will ditch decorum and run.

This danse macabre is all the more loathsome because it is, like the early days of Big Pharma, marketed as a respectable, decent operation… before the public caught on.

[Anamnesis: I have multiple friends, relatives, ex-partners, and my own self, that have all dealt with these mental health monoliths. Not a single one of us has emerged with our skin not stapled back on; singed to cinders: borrowed, worn and returned without receipt; and yet we’re still here, on Mother Earth, stronger than half the himbos on the Dark Web.]

Your author swore off nonprofits almost two decades before this mess, and was very quickly reminded why: “nonprofit” does not equal “no money.” These engines stay revving because the public buys this poorly-hidden miscommunication. Meanwhile, the CEO of Goodwill lives in a literal mansion. Whoops.

You wind up at a violently vanilla orientation, wondering what this place actually needs your help with, a pantsuit-clad I’m Not Like Other Girls cliché sipping at a compulsory pumpkin spice enema as she continuously apologizes to you between swishes through other offices.


Y’all might make me late for work. Real work. Hard work. My other job. If this shit doesn’t hurry up and right itself, I’m in dutch with my supervisor, and that is not okay, Cleopatra.

The pantsuit asks you to step into a side room, and you meet a woman that wishes you dead for being white, male and American, then proceeds to pyramid-scheme you into what barely qualifies for a “job,” federally, on a phone support line where homebound sociopaths threaten to rape and decapitate you.

All the while, your nuts-and-bolts reality is screaming in your ear that you need to clock in at the grocery store in twelve minutes. Twelve. Fatherfucking. Minutes.

I wanted this article to be brief. Sorry folks, this is the Matty version of “brief.”

I have worked in dozens of industries, which makes HR dorks nervous, unless they’ve ever been laid by someone not sharing their internal organs, and understanding that a she/he/they/ze/sie with a mountain of experience is worth a quadrillion shiny MBA’s.

Nonprofits are hit-or-miss. Some are incredible and do amazing work, while far too many are tax-shelters for tycoons who can’t type or drive. If you want to actually help, it takes work, sweat and discomfort. Find the central office of the cause, call them, get details of how their taxes are broken down, decide that they give a flying fuck at a rolling donut (shouts to Hurricane Billy), write a dusty physical check as though Nixon were still in office. Proceed from there.

Or volunteer at a soup kitchen. Or go to Skid Row and help folks wash their clothes in the machines under the folding tents. Pause whatever porn/game/FAANG you’re staring at, and go fucking HELP people.

You can make a difference. I will give you a hug if you’ve showered. There is goodness in the world… but unfortunately, it isn’t always at a 501(c)(3).

Help people. Please. I’m still trying, even after the Amway Suicide Prevention gig I will not name here.

Rest In Power, Mark Fisher. So many have failed you; but so many are breaking their backs to honor you.

And thank you, Goat, the Polaris of Ruthless.



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One response to “Working in Mental Health Might Ruin Your Mental Health”

  1. Goat Avatar

    Wonderful work, Matthew. Spot on.

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