What is a Psychiatrist?


Christian Louie, Journalist, Editor

On December 11, 2020, I interviewed my aunt, Karen Yun, about her job. She is a psychiatrist in Oakland, California. A psychiatrist is a doctor who specializes in the treatment of mental health.


Before talking to the patients, psychiatrists assess what the patient has, and then diagnoses them with what they have. Most of the time, the patient got a disorder or disease, because it was passed down through genetics. After a diagnosis, the patients get medication, or go to therapy.


Karen is a psychiatrist who works at a community mental health center, and jail. At the community mental health center, she works with monolingual people who don’t speak English, are mostly immigrants, and have a low income. She also works with families in these circumstances, which might not know about their loved one’s disorder/disease. This leads to them not getting help until the disorder/disease has gotten very bad. After she diagnoses them, Karen sends the patient to their primary care doctor who can help them. She can also have a social worker talk to the patient, and help them get benefits such as insurance. She does not just help the patient, she also teaches the families about what their loved one has.


At the jail, she works with patients that are mentally ill and traumatized. Some got hooked on drugs at a young age and are addicts by 18, which leads them to commit crimes. To help these people, she detoxes them and slows them down on the drugs, makes sure they are physically safe, and helps them find a doctor. She can also help them connect with social services to get housing so they do not end up on the streets and go back to jail.

Karen first wanted to become a doctor at the age of 21 when volunteering in India. She loved the idea of helping people and chose to be a doctor. At first, she wanted to specialize in internal medicine, but while doing her rotations in med-school, she found out about psychiatry. She decided to go with psychiatry because of the fact that you get more time to spend with each patient compared to other medical fields.


In this interview, I talked about what a psychiatrist does and in particular, my aunt Karen. She helps many people at the community mental health center and jail. I hope you enjoyed reading this article!