Our mental health is just as important as our physical health. Think of it this way, imagine your driving your car and it starts making some loud, unusual noises. At first you might hope that it just disappears and goes away, but what if over time it actually gets worse, its gets louder and soon you realise that you need to take it for repair. Would you try to fix the car yourself, even though you are not a trained mechanic or have any experience in repairing cars? Probably not, most of us would take it to a mechanic, get the repairs done and move on with our lives. Why is it we will trust a mechanic with our car, or a builder with our house repairs, but we have difficulty trusting a therapist with our thoughts, feelings and emotions? And even if we did see a therapist, why is it seen as something to keep quiet about and not share with others?
Unfortunately, at some point many of us will struggle with our mental health, as research shows that 1 in 5 people will be diagnosed with a mental illness. Often people can be discouraged from reaching out to mental health professionals because of misconceptions and stigmas that exist around therapy.
Here are a few misconceptions around reaching out for help with our mental health.
Visting a therapist indicates weakness
Admitting you need help is not always easy, but everyone needs help sometimes and reaching out is courageous and strong. Therapy can help you work through difficulties no matter how big or small they may be.
Why go to therapy when I can talk to my friends and family?
While good friends and family are great, they are not trained mental health professionals and its important to remember not to put the role of therapist on them as putting them in this position can put a strain on the relationship.
If I start therapy, will it ever end?
The length and frequency of sessions depends on the person, their situation and their goals. Often people only need two or three sessions, or it may be beneficial to have sessions over a longer period of time to work on deeper struggles. Therapists are trained to know when you have made progress.
Isn’t it true that medication is more effective than therapy?
While medication is effective for treating mental illness, it is not the only option. Research shows that the most positive outcomes come to people who have a combination of both the appropriate medication and therapy.
Therapists have it all figured out, don’t they?
The misconception that therapists always have harmonious, perfect lives is incorrect. Its important to remember to therapists are everyday people, and often you will find the best therapists have their own therapists as well.
Finally, if you need help don’t wait, forget about the stigma around therapy. Attending therapy allows you to explore your thoughts and feelings in a safe space and helps you develop a deep understanding of yourself.