Do you feel comfortable seeking psychological help from a professional? Or do you find yourself overwhelmed by stigmas and societal norms that discourage you from prioritising your mental health?
Even in this day and age of mental health awareness, many people continue suffering silently to avoid stirring avoidable debates. For some, the stigmas are a part of their upbringing and family structures. For others, the avoidance of mental health stems from their disregard of their emotional and psychological well-being.
Myths and misconceptions have an influential role to play here. You see, misconceptions around mental health deter people from getting the help they need to avoid seeming weak. Debunking mental health myths is of the utmost significance, and we urge you to keep reading to build awareness.
Myth 1: Only people with severe mental disorders should consider therapy
Therapy is no connection with mental illnesses or a psychological diagnosis, for that matter. You don’t have to have a mental illness to qualify for any form of therapy, be it cognitive or behavioural. People use therapy as a medium to address several underlying issues and disturbances.
For instance, therapy helps with difficult life transitions, overwhelming stress at work, anxiety, or perpetual sadness. Many people seek therapists to cope with the stress of exams, marital problems, parenting difficulties, and even managing chronic illnesses.
Essentially, therapists help people process difficult emotions and use cognitive reasoning to find the answers they seek. Contrary to popular beliefs, therapists never share their opinions or offer advice that overrules the client’s thought process. They instead facilitate the thinking process that clients have difficulty processing on their own.
In recent years, therapy and counselling have emerged as rapidly growing fields. Professionals embark on mental health careers with a bachelors in psychology and then pursue specialisations and advanced training. An undergraduate degree is a right step to explore your interests and find a promising mental health niche for yourself.
Myth 2: Seeing a psychologist is a sign of weakness
Many people hide their pain and sorrows, choosing to suffer silently than sharing their problems with others. Such people are discouraged by false societal and cultural notions of inner strength, willpower, and bravado. There’s no bravery or courage in suffering silently and allowing your mind to wither away with stress and anxiety.
Do you know what’s genuinely courageous and brave? True bravery breaks free of the shackles of false notions of bravery and prioritises self-care and mental well-being! It takes courage to relearn everything we know about ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses. Seeing a psychologist will not weaken you. Rather, it will strengthen you to fight emotions that bring you down.
Myth 3: Why do I need a therapist when I have a loving family and doting friends?
There’s nothing more powerful and fulfilling than a support system of loving friends and family. But regarding them as mental health professionals to absorb all your negativity and trauma isn’t healthy and fair. It’s simply not acceptable to flood your family members and friends with unpleasant emotions they will struggle to process.
A psychologist or therapist is not a replacement for your friends and family and vice versa. Psychologists are highly trained and skilled individuals with years of training and learning in handling mental and behavioural issues. They will walk you through elements and problems that your friends or family members may not highlight to avoid offending you.
With a therapist, one doesn’t have to hold back or care about pretences and appearances. More importantly, therapists offer confidentiality and discretion and cannot share their sessions with others.
Myth 4: Therapy is an expensive habit of the rich and wealthy
Many people visualise therapy with images of wealthy socialites and celebrities sprawled on luxurious couches, chatting away about meaningless concerns. These images are as far as one can deviate from the truth about therapy and mental health practices.
Therapy isn’t an expensive treatment course, and you won’t always end up sprawled on a fancy couch. Private practices and clinics offer a multitude of prices based on their localities and target audiences. If affordability is a significant issue, consider exploring the local community and social services for promising leads.
Many therapists work on a pro bono basis to help people in need. With a bit of research, you can easily find therapists who fit within your budget. The thought of spending on therapy is always an equation that deters first-timers, but focusing on the gains will prove helpful.
Myth #5: I’m an independent Person, and I can fix my problems without any help
Do you call the handyman to fix leakages and repairs around the house, or does your independent streak deter you? Does your fierce sense of independence stop you from seeing doctors and landing in the ER with medical complaints?
Well, if your independence doesn’t stop you from engaging professionals for all kinds of services, why reserve this attitude for therapy? Independence doesn’t refer to a disdain for help and assistance when problems get out of hand. More importantly, seeking help is not a sign of failure.
Seeking a therapist is essential to understand the behavioural, biochemical, or genetic disturbances behind the emotions you’re experiencing.
Debunking these myths is essential to prioritise our mental well-being without the pressure of false societal notions. Many cultures worldwide discourage people from seeing therapists with damaging misconceptions of inner strength and willpower. Such notions and cultures do enormous harm by preventing people from breaking free of generational trauma and genetic illnesses.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.