Should therapy be normalised for everyone?
Therapy. Counselling. We have all heard of these words and probably have similar images that spring to mind when we think of them: a pristine office, a doctor with a notepad, and a patient severely
Therapy. Counselling. We have all heard of these words and probably have similar images that spring to mind when we think of them: a pristine office, a doctor with a notepad, and a patient severely sweaty, nervous and afraid as they speak about their feelings, lying on a slanted sofa, suddenly coming to a huge realisation within the session and turning their entire life around within the first week.
But what if I told you that there are many things already wrong with this image? With this perception and the reason behind it
Throughout our entire lives we are wholly impacted by what we see in media; in movies, the news, newspapers, magazines and many more and so, it is not necessarily a surprise when many of us have the same, set-in-stone image of what we assume therapy may be like. We assume that it is what we have seen through the media as we may not be exposed to these services currently in our personal lives, the idea of going to therapy or seeking any other professional mental support being an idea that may seem far, far away.
We are faced with statistics such as 1 in 4 people facing a mental health problem of some form and yet only 1 in 8 of those people seeking out professional support from mental health services. This clearly shows that many experience a mental health issue in society and many more ignore this issue and press on with their daily lives.
Although we have come far in fighting the stigma around the importance of mental health, many more lay attached to the topic such as the similarities between weakness and vulnerabilities and how that ‘weakness’ is seen as negative.
Due to this negative ideology we may find it initially hard to speak out about our mental health and wellbeing, to openly express what may cause us to feel weak – notice how I did not say “be” weak.
Speaking out about your experiences, emotions and life events do not make you weak, in fact many professionals within the Psychological field express that opening up about your personal vulnerabilities and risking judgement (in some cases) is what takes an immense level of strength and emotional will-power. This in itself is what is suggested to make us feel as if we are ‘weak’ and exposed.
In this setting you are deemed vulnerable, not weak.
This pseudo-correlation between the themes of weakness and vulnerability within mental health and wellbeing is what results in many cultures (especially those of ethnic minority backgrounds) to refrain from seeking professional mental support.
A 2016 report on the youth justice system in England and Wales found over 20% of children are from BAME backgrounds and more than one third of those children have a diagnosed mental health problem. Statistics show that 70% of these young people who experience a mental health problem do not receive the appropriate support and this is only a representation of the youth of Black Asian Minority Ethnic communities in the UK.
Many of us are already aware of the fact that our mental wellbeing and mental health not only impacts us and the quality of our lives but those around us too. 80% of mental health patients claim their mental health has had a detrimental impact upon their families and therefore the mental wellbeing of those people. Subsequently, caring for our mental wellbeing does not end with just us, it ends with all other relationships we have tied to ourselves: our families, friends, romantic partners and many, many more.
This stigma, much like many others, is doing severe harm to our society, impacting people of all races, all cultural backgrounds, genders and sexualities. We have been pushed into an ideology that holds us from seeking out, opening up and letting go only to better our own lives and the lives of those around us.
Perhaps now this article has encouraged you to look into professional mental health more, what else do you need to know?
Breaking The Myths and Misconceptions
I’m sorry to break this to you, but there is no lean-on sofa. Devastating, I know.
This cliché was first founded in the time of Freudian Psychology where patients could lie down and face away from their therapists as a way of opening up with more ease. This practice, however, now ceases to exist due to its prevention in forming a trusting and open bond between therapist and patient, a factor that is important when it comes down to the quality of your counselling experience.
But as we know, trust takes time, which leads us onto our next therapy myth. For therapy and other counselling treatments to be seen as effective and successful, it will take time and effort. There is no ‘huge realisation’ and an immediate change within one’s life but many small discoveries made between patient and doctor confidentiality, these breakthroughs only being positive if they are acted upon and worked with outside of the office. How easy it is to work on these discoveries, like many other factors, varies from person to person deeply.
Another common myth would be the idea that therapists and many other professionals in the Psychological and Psychiatric fields enjoy psychoanalysing for their personal benefit, as a means of a personal kick. This is untrue. For psychologists, counsellors and therapists their main intentions are to provide you with support and guidance with the means of comfort and trust; this is not a career of personal gain but one of empathy and kindness which you should find through any mental health professional you come across; abilities of analysing and communication are for your benefit and at your disposal only.
Lastly, and a misconception that I find to be immensely important to debunk is the idea that one should only seek mental health professional support if the situation is dire or extreme. This is, you guessed it, incorrect. Professionals in this field encourage people of all ages to seek out professional care when they believe it is required for themselves, not whether the situation is extreme or a must. Many believe that a mental health issue can be easily overcome with time and whilst in a small selected number of cases this may be true, in many more cases it is not. In other words: would you wait for a physical disease to grow and fester within your body until it is extreme to go see your doctor? Or would you book an appointment and tackle the pathogen whilst only feeling the first initial symptoms?
At The End of The Day
Therapy is a safe haven for all of those who find themselves there, a place to open up and speak in a safe, confidential and non-judgmental environment with an individual that overtime you are likely to bond to and is specialised to help.
I don’t know about you, it sounds pretty good to me.
But, yes, jokes aside, looking at the statistics and looking at the truth behind counselling, therapy and other sources of professional mental health support, I believe we are at a day and age where therapy and any other means of professional mental support should be normalised and accepted by and for everyone.
If you need help finding a therapist, you can try: