Most people go to professionals to get their hair cut, car fixed, or for their physical health, but when faced with an emotional issue, they hesitate.
There’s a fear of mental health professionals—likely created by juicy depictions of popular media and an informal collection of horror stories that sound like, my friend told me his uncle’s best friend’s sister didn’t have a good experience—that is responsible for creating crises out of issues.
When people are trying, they engage in a homemade version of therapy—get an informal poll on the best course of action from friends and confidants, read books, or search on google for answers. Most people just choose to ignore issues by distracting or numbing themselves.
One of the most common ways to numb yourself instead of dealing with the reality of the issue you are facing is – not drugs and alcohol – is to keep busy. I’ll be so busy that I won’t have time to think or feel.
Most of the problems we see in our families and in our society are created and nurtured because of nurturing and perpetuating these myths and misbeliefs about mental health.
Most behavior is learned, thus it can be unlearned. Most if not all problems have a solution.
Most of us have a problem-solving mentality but we still keep choose not to get real help. When the family, friends, and clergy have had a go at the issue and it still remains unresolved, why don’t we go to a professional for help and guidance?
People’s depression, difficulties in marriage, anxiety, phobias, personality issues, are just pushed under the rug and treated as that person’s idiosyncrasies that we must put up with if we love them.
The way to make an issue bigger is to ignore it, distract yourself from it, or not respond to it effectively.
With the number of random shootings, suicides, divorces, secret and open addictions, the inability of capable people to living up to their potential, and hundreds of other issues that have become more and more rampant around us, it has become essential for all of us to reassess our concept of going to a Mental Health Professionals for help, guidance, and support.
As we all know from experience when we are done distracting ourselves, the problem remains unresolved—it just grows bigger and becomes an issue and a crisis.
As a therapist, here are some myths about mental health I would love to bust for you.
If I go see a therapist it means I have issues or I’ll be considered weak and imperfect.
It’s important to know that no one is perfect. If you think someone is – it’s because you just don’t know enough about that person just yet. Everyone has some issues or the other which is the beauty of being human.
It’s important to admit that its a weaker stance to not believe in reality and pretend everything is ok—inadvertently harming people that are associated with you—blaming the problem on other people, things, and situations.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate” – Carl Jung
It’s also important to recognize that it’s a much stronger stance to face the reality even when it’s uncomfortable. You’ll know it’s the stronger stance because it takes a lot more courage to do it.
I have to be really far gone to see a therapist.
Most people who come in for therapy are very successful in all aspects of life and have just hit a bump in the road. Therapy allows people to take the blocks off that prevent them from being the best version of who they are so that they can live up to their full potential.
Don’t wait for a crisis before choosing to get help.
Just like going to a medical doctor—the sooner you seek help for your discomfort, the easier it will be for you to successfully resolve it. The longer you wait the more complicated it gets, left ignored it can become debilitating or even lethal.
There is a very high level of confidentiality that Mental Health Professionals must maintain. If you don’t want anyone to know you are getting therapy, you can keep it private.
The therapist isn’t from my culture and won’t understand where I’m coming from:
All therapists are trained to not be judgemental and to counsel their clients according to the client’s own values, beliefs, and culture.
If for whatever reason you are not jiving with your therapist, you can always leave and go to another one, you are not bound to one therapist.
I’m going to be able to solve the problem on my own or take help from friends, family, and religious organizations:
Support of friends, families, and religious organizations is paramount. It makes a great difference in your well-being, but it’s important to know when your issue is beyond the scope of their knowledge and at that time you must go to a professional.
If your car or an appliance broke down, you might try to do basic troubleshooting, but if it still doesn’t work then you’d seek out a professional, apply the same concept when dealing with an emotional or psychological issue.
I’ll go in for one thing and the therapist will take out 9 other issues within me.
This car mechanic mentality doesn’t apply to therapists. Despite what you are exposed to on popular media, therapists are not looking to exploit people.
Therapists and psychiatrists operate under very strict boards with very defined ethical regulations. They risk losing their license to practice if they behave in any way that harms or exploits their clients.
I don’t want to be in therapy all my life.
You only go as much as you need to and no one forces you to keep going if you choose not to, so this myth or excuse really doesn’t work.
How do you know when it’s time to seek help?
Just like in the case of seeking help from a medical doctor, when any issue you are facing is preventing you from living your life the way you want to live, it’s time to seek help.
It’s more harmful to not get help.
No matter what your myths and fears are about not getting professional help, there is more harm in not going to a Mental Health Professional than there is in going to one.
Sanya Bari @sanya.bari
Therapist, Coach, Relationship Expert, & Lifestyle Blogger
SHE Magazine USA