With one in five individuals in the United States suffering from mental illness, there are an estimated 46.1 million people living with AMI (Any Mental Illness) in the country, according to information on The National Institute of Mental Health. Despite so many people being affected by mental health issues, there is unfortunately still a stigma associated with seeking psychotherapy and counseling. A lot of this has to do with myths and misconceptions that have historically plagued mental health.
If you or a loved one is finding life difficult to cope with, seeking professional help could be the best choice to improve quality of life. However, research also shows that people often wait for long periods before seeking therapy, with couples waiting for seven years on average before seeking help, according to experts at the Institute for Personal Growth.
If the fear of stigma is a hurdle in doing so, here are some things you should keep in mind.
You are NOT “Weak”
Mental health issues need to be viewed in the same way as we do physical illness, such as a fever or even high blood pressure. When dealing with any illness, it is recommended to seek professional help, rather than trying to self-medicate. The same is true for mental ailments as well. In fact, there could be a physical cause for mental illness. For instance, depression has been linked to low levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter. Going for therapy is the opposite of weakness, since it requires greater strength to overcome apprehensions and seek help.
You are NOT Alone
Some people don’t realize that what they are experiencing could actually be a common experience for many others. According to a survey by the American Psychology Association, 27% of Americans have received psychotherapy or treatment for mental illness. Knowing that you are not alone in the way you feel or experience the world lends a lot of support. However, it is only when you speak about the issues you are facing that you can find others experiencing the same thing.
Mental Illness is NOT About being “Crazy”
Please do not let stereotypes and misconceptions about mental illness mislead you. The reality is that everyday stress, marital problems, grief due to the loss of a loved one and even major life decisions can benefit from therapy. Plus, psychotherapy is about learning effective coping technique for the real world.
The Journey Starts with YOU
To make a difference to the way people perceive you and therapy, you need to first change the way you view therapy and yourself. Therapy is about being able to manage your everyday life better and lead a more fulfilling existence. When you see the advantages of therapy for yourself, you could even encourage others to seek therapy as well.
Mental health is just as important as physical health. So, go ahead and give yourself the opportunity to lead the best life you can. It all starts with you!