Humanist Advocates on Campus
Hemant is all over this issue because he goes to a lot of college campuses to speak and college kids are generally the most enthusiastic atheists out there today. So what do you think? Is there a legitimate "need" for "humanist" chaplains on campus like there are religious chaplains for students? (And yes, there's a debate about what title they should use; my vote is for "advocate.") I recently insulted one by mistake at my alma mater; the article in which I read about him suggested he was well paid when in fact he is not. But regardless of whether we're talking about a paid position or something else, should secular and non-believing students have "their own kind" of counselor? How important is it to know the person one turns to for help shares your (lack of) belief? Is it a redundant service, given how most campuses already have psych experts, counselors, peer counselors, mentors, etc available to students in need and crisis?
In my own case, I have a very dim view of the psychiatric arts and sciences.
This mostly stems from the fact that despite going to MD/PhDs, MSWs, PhDs and registered psychiatric nurses at various times of crisis when I was younger, all of them utterly FAILED to tell me what the problem really was: I was gay and needed to explore that to be happy/happier with my self and my life. So I have a lot of personal disdain for the "science" of psychiatry/psychology. I've also dated not a few professionals in those fields, and if I may generalize, all of them were fucked up women in the business because they were really trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with themselves. YMMV, of course.
But what about humanist/secular/atheist counseling? Does it have value? I argued over at Hemant's place that yes, yes it does. For the main reason that far too many psychiatric professionals still bring their own beliefs and biases into their practices. There are times it's damn hard to be an atheist, especially on campuses where religion is everywhere and religious people are the vast majority. That can be depressing to an atheist going to school there, and I think those kids deserve their own advocate.