Despite the awareness of growing mental health concerns in society, why do people still not prefer to go to therapy or seek any mental health professional’s help? What is stopping them? The stigma around seeking help from mental health professionals still exists. It’s seen to be a huge barrier and many refuse to normalize therapy due to negative societal stigmas. The stigma around approaching mental health is due to a lack of awareness.
Let’s look one by one, at some stigmas that still exist in society around seeking help.
I’m not weak to go for therapy.
Reality: You are strong enough to think of seeking therapy! Seeking help for mental health challenges is a sign of courage, a big bold green flag portraying strength. It demonstrates self-awareness, recognizing that you’re facing challenges and knowing something isn’t right, and that seeking some professional support would address the issues more healthily.
Recognition requires a lot of introspection and humility. Many people are ashamed to open up about their psychological challenges, as they fear being vulnerable in front of someone.
The willingness to confront and address complex psychological challenges is a courageous step to facing difficult emotions, revisiting past traumas, and facing the unknown. Exploring your psyche and delving into the depths of your own emotions can be daunting, but the willingness to face the unknown aspects takes great courage.
I’m not crazy (or severely mentally ill) to go to therapy
Reality: Mental illness is not a sign of personal weakness or character flaws. Feelings of sadness, anxiety, and stress are part of normal human responses to life’s challenges, rooted in biological and psychological processes. Mental illnesses may result from imbalances in brain chemistry, genetic predispositions, or changes in the brain structure of function due to trauma.
The factors are beyond one’s control and are no sign of personal weakness. Changes in emotions, thinking, or behavior that cause disturbance to one’s daily functioning can benefit from seeking therapy- regardless of the severity of symptoms.
I’ll just talk to my friends/family, I’ll be fine.
Reality: Having a social circle can be a powerful tool to share your issues. However, a friend/family cannot be compared to a professional that is equipped with skills and training. The therapist provides confidential, non-judgmental, empathetic, and guided space for self-exploration to the client.
A friend may have their own biases which can influence the advice and support they will give you (lacking objectivity). Talking to a friend may not always be confidential, while a therapist follows ethical guidelines to protect the client’s confidentiality.
A mental health professional provides a more unbiased, neutral perspective than a friend. They won’t have any personal biases or emotional attachments (professional boundaries) which allows clients to get a more objective insight into the problem-solving process.
Therapy sessions follow a structured and evidence-based approach that is tailored to the needs of the client. Mental health professionals teach you practical skills, and coping strategies to manage stressful situations appropriately.
I’m not in a major crisis to seek therapy, people are dealing with worse situations, and my problems are nothing compared to that.
Reality: Everyone has different experiences and is bound to feel and function differently. Seeking therapy is a courageous step towards healing and self-understanding, regardless of the magnitude of the problems. What may be a manageable issue for one could seem overwhelming for another. Seeking therapy can also be a preventive measure to equip oneself with healthier coping strategies for problems before they get worse.
Therapy caters to a wide spectrum of issues that range from navigating day-to-day issues to dealing with more severe symptoms. It is essential to know which mental health professional to seek help from, such as a Psychiatrist, Clinical Psychologist, or Counseling Psychologist.
Therapy is only about talking and won’t provide any practical solutions to my problems.
Reality: The expression of thoughts and feelings with a professional who listens empathetically and without judgement, allows acceptance and validation resulting in a powerful step towards self-understanding and personal growth. The therapeutic relationship itself can be a source of healing, where the client feels understood. The acceptance helps clients gain more insight into their feelings, and develop more self-compassion.
This collaborative process goes beyond just talking, it fosters a sense of trust and empowerment which can build the client’s journey toward well-being. For some people, the therapeutic relationship serves as a space to find closure to many unresolved issues and past traumas.
While self-expression counts as a fundamental component of therapy, mental health professionals use therapeutic approaches and techniques to deal with practical challenges, such as CBT, Skills Training, Behavioral Interventions, Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques, Conflict Resolution, Goal Setting, Problem-Solving, Exposure Therapy, and more.
Seeking help may seem like a very daunting task at first, whilst dealing with the roller-coaster of emotions; a continuous ride of ups and downs. Before we seek any professional help, we tend to self-diagnose and try out all the possible methods of recovering from the things we are facing. While it is natural to research and try to understand what you’re going through, self-diagnosis has certain limitations. In contrast, assessment by a professional may provide a more accurate understanding of the symptoms that you are facing.