Unlike Dr. Frasier Crane, TV’s best-known fictional psychiatrist, Dr. Melissa Tate is a real-life psychologist and radio personality.
Tate runs practices in Ballantyne and the Cotswold area.
The divorced mother of two, who lives in Matthews, had her first recorded show broadcast at noon Nov. 9.
The show, “MediTate & Mingle,” is on WGIVAM 103.3 radio and online at www.wgivcharlotte.com. You can hear the pre-recorded show at noon Sundays.
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Tate’s first show was an interview with retired NFL linebacker Keith O’Neil, who has become a strong mental-health advocate since being diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
“I was ridiculously nervous,” Tate said of the first show. “Here I was interviewing this athlete, and realized who I was talking to and who would be listening; and then I started to loosen up some.
“I also play a game of sorts called ‘Emotional Roller coaster,’ where I ask a lot of different questions about different situations, different reactions and different emotions. It turned out very well.”
Tate was maintaining a blog and working on a book when WGIV approached her.
“I was in a bit of a quandary at the thought” of taking on the show, she said. “After a lot of prayer, though, and consultation with friends, I decided to do it, and within two weeks my first show aired.
“I think above all, by the way my show has debuted, you can tell I’m ultimately interested in the human experience and making sense of a personal story in a way that motivates others.”
The 38-year-old New Jersey native maintains two practice locations and uses one day a week to work on appointments, do administrative and clinical duties and record her show. She said she has a contract to practice with the Transformative Life Center in Ballantyne and a newer private practice with another psychologist near Wendover Avenue.
Tate said she started as a physical-therapy major at the University of Maryland but quickly fell in love with psychology and earned her bachelor’s degree. She went on to earn her master’s and doctorate at Argosy University in Washington, D.C.
“I’ve been a psych major since I was 18. I had a baby in the middle of working on my doctorate, but I just kept going,” she said.
After getting her doctorate, Tate began visiting friends in Charlotte, and her daughters enjoyed trips to Carowinds and other attractions.
“Eventually I woke up one day and said, ‘I think I’m moving to Charlotte,’ ” she said. Tate moved to Charlotte in June 2012.
Tate treats a variety of disorders but says she now sees patients mainly for depression and anxiety. She says mental-health professionals face a number of challenges.
“First, there is definitely a stigma with mental health, a sense of embarrassment that a person has been diagnosed with something,” she said. “But there’s also a stigma from the outside, because people may think the person is crazy or that you need to man up.
“Part of my job is normalizing the experience, validating their feelings. If someone had a broken leg and they had a cast and you could see that, you’d see that and say, ‘OK.’
“But if you have a mental illness, you don’t see that. It’s a chemical difficulty, just like an insulin deficiency.”