There is more to therapy than lying on a couch and discussing childhoods fears and trauma. Counselors and therapists can help those struggling with mental illness to gain coping skills and learn how to live a complete life despite their mental woes. Unfortunately there is quite a bit of stigma surrounding the mental health practice. Some stems from outside forces while others actually come from our own thoughts and ideas about the topic. In order to overcome the counseling stigma one must first understand what type of stigmas there are and how one can reset their thinking.
What Is Counseling Stigma?
The first stigma is quite commonly thought of and referred to when discussing this topic, and that is the public stigma. Throughout human history there has always existed prejudices and discrimination against those with mental illness. People have been afraid to seek out the help they need because of these prejudices. Many of us are deterred by some of the labels that others might place on them like being “crazy” or “unstable”. With a seemingly endless amount of negative terms associated with therapy and mental illness, it is no wonder so many go on untreated for fear of having one of those labels placed on them.
The second type of stigma are the ones that individuals place on themselves. The internal labels and self defeating talk can be the most detrimental to those that are considering seeking help. Self stigma occurs when people internalize all of the negative attitudes and stereotypes they encounter in the public. This can lead to social isolation and other self destructive behaviors. These individuals start to believe their mental illnesses and negative stereotypes define them.
Learning to overcome the counseling stigma as a society and as individuals is important to longevity and well-being. So what are some things you can do to overcome the therapy stigma?
One of the best things a person can do for themselves is to seek help. It is important to fight the preconceived notions of shame and start talking about it. Getting help from a professional is not giving into weakness, in fact it is quite the opposite, getting help is taking control over something instead of letting it consume your life.
Become an Advocate
Talk about it. Start discussing it with the people around you like family and friends. You might be surprised to find out that many of them have had the same struggles as you. Discussing things out loud tends to help us process our own thoughts and emotions as well.
Educate yourself on mental illness. Understanding how mental illness works and how it affects the brain can give us insight and help to tune out some of that negative talk we encounter. It can give us power over our mental illness and be a step towards overcoming stigmas that we internalize. Knowledge is power.
In recent decades the stigmas that surround mental illness have started to decrease. This is due to the rise of mental health awareness and reformation of mandates and laws to protect mentally ill individuals. While there has been great progress in overcoming the counseling stigma, that does not mean they are not still prevalent today. It is estimated that only a little over half of those with serious mental illness receive treatment. Society has seen a dramatic shift and uptick in awareness and acceptance, but there is still a long way to go.
Remember if you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or any other serious mental illness, you are not alone. Help is available. Valbuena 360 Wellness has a highly trained staff eager to help you through your struggles. Please call us or visit our website at valbuenawellness.com for more information.