Several stigmas are associated with mental health and attending therapy. There’s the stereotype that if you’re going to therapy, you must be crazy. Or your pride might have you thinking you don’t need any help from anyone and can fix it on your own. Denial might make you think you’re fine and that nothing is wrong. But have you ever given therapy a chance?
Why is it for some that mental health is a taboo or touchy subject to speak on? While some people engage in therapy, many others may not partake for several reasons. Those reasons include but are not limited to judgment, embarrassment, religious beliefs, and financial burdens.
Registered mental health counselor intern Sakina McCoy believes that anyone who is dealing with something that is causing any form of distress or interfering with their well-being definitely should and can benefit greatly by going to therapy. Her belief is that if traumas are ignored, they can easily get passed from generation to generation.
“It is especially important for anyone to seek therapy instead of ignoring,” McCoy said. “Adults specifically because various changes can happen in life, and it’s not uncommon for adults to be holding on to traumas that never got resolved in childhood. It affects adults in the workplace and in their relationships – social, familial, and romantic.”
With judgment being one of the many reasons people are afraid to attend therapy, McCoy said there are options for those who are not comfortable.
Group counseling is one option if you’re more comfortable being in a group setting with six or less people. She’s seen that this option works best for people who struggle with anxiety.
Another option is using services that allow you to speak to counselors over the phone or by video chat. McCoy finds it to be less invasive, and patients can receive counseling without leaving their homes.
Depression and anxiety can be caused by a variety of factors, but according to McCoy, social media can have a huge impact on someone’s mental health. Many people are affected by it without acknowledging it. She also spoke on internet bullies and how that can have a negative impact on users.
“Many people use social media as a source of validation, and that could be for many reasons, (like) low self-esteem,” McCoy said. “Having the ability to constantly portray yourself in a certain light to get acceptance and approval continues to be the footing for the unhealthy feelings and ways of coping.”
Social media doesn’t always have to be a negative thing. When used appropriately, McCoy said it can be extremely helpful for businesses and community outreach.
Genetics, environment, illness, stress, grief, and social circles can all also affect mental health.
“I like to say there is no one exempt from, at some point, experiencing something that can affect their mental health,” McCoy said. “It is just a matter of how the ‘thing’ is dealt with.”
McCoy believes that the mental health field is being portrayed in a better light on television as of late. In the past, she felt people just got the idea that a person just sits in a chair and the therapist asks the questions, but she said it’s a lot more than that and that she’s glad people are becoming more aware every day of the benefits.
If you’re not in need of counseling but know someone who is, how can you be of help? Being supportive if someone you know is deciding to go or not is one way; however, McCoy said therapy is different for everyone, so tread lightly.
“There’s actually a high chance (that) talking to someone that’s not in therapy may hurt the process,” McCoy said. “It’s not uncommon for other people to minimize the therapy process.”
If you are seeking counseling, continue to be a voice that shares the benefits. Celebrities such as radio announcer Lenard McKelvey, better known as Charlamagne Tha God, are advocates for mental health, especially within the African-American community.
What are some other ways to cope? There are several options if you can’t afford to attend a session, McCoy said.
“Many therapists are willing to adjust their fees to help,” she said. “If seeking a therapist is not an option, I would recommend meditation, journaling, exercising, or even talking to a close family member or friend.”
Written by: Tyrah Walker