The road to therapy may look easy. However, it is jam-packed with speed breakers making the journey a very slow and bumpy one. Our world is progressing, our economies are growing. Yet the stigma around mental health remains the same. The negative connotation attached to seeking therapy hinders the process of mental well-being.
An individual suffering from mental disorders are either dissuaded from seeking therapy or is looked down upon. People don’t acknowledge the concept of mental disorders. They either view it as a trivial matter, discard it as a “phase” OR they put the individual in a position where he/she is perceived as a threat to the society.
Stigmas can be divided in 2 types:
Public stigmas: This refers to the perception or a belief system, the society holds. When a majority (society) exhibits negative attitudes towards the minority, it takes a form of social discrimination, prejudice or stereotyping. People view the individual seeking help as a threat to society, an abnormality or a defect. These deep-seated beliefs are internalised by people (self-stigmatisation) and thus, continues the cycle of the stigmatization of seeking therapy.
An individual who is subjected to these stereotypes can experience alienation, distress, self-doubt, shame and guilt, pushing them deeper into the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, as seeking therapy no longer remains an option for them. They adopt the false notion of their disorder being socially ‘unacceptable’ and their feelings being invalid and corrupt. There is also a fear of being labelled, being ‘abnormal’, being vulnerable and fear of being alienated.
Most of the time it is the fear of being judged that drives people away from therapy even if they don’t believe in this stigma. A person constantly subjected to these stigmas can experience stress and anxiety. The primordial reason for stigmatization of seeking therapy can be traced down to ignorance and lack of awareness. Mental health has been neglected time immemorial. It is looked down upon as a weakness. Anything that diverts from ‘normalcy’ (social norms) is considered to be as strange or unconventional.
Therapy plays an important role when it comes to balancing or stabilizing mental health. However, it is still a taboo in this modern world. Instead of seeing it as a weakness, it should be viewed as a step towards empowerment.
It is okay to seek help. Let us help you understand why.
- You are not crazy:
‘Crazy’, ‘abnormal’, ‘mental’ are some labels that society marks an individual with if she/he decides to seek therapy or is seeking therapy. You need to believe that you are not crazy. It is what your mental health demands and you should cater to it first. You are not alone. Just because you are suffering from mental problems doesn’t mean you are not normal. Even in psychiatry, mental illness is like a sickness that is cured by using medicines.
- Seeking therapy doesn’t mean you’re weak:
Therapy is not for the weak. In fact it is empowering. Acknowledging, accepting and breaking the stereotypes require strength. It makes you strong and ready for the world.
- Believe in yourself:
If you believe in yourself, the world will too. Change your negative perceptions.
Benefits of seeking help:
We’ve been taught to control our emotions and not display them. These bottled up emotions can in-turn create more mental problems. These pent up emotions can accumulate over time and can result in sudden outbursts. Counselling or therapy provides a medium to convey your emotions. It acts like a catharsis.
An individual leaves the session feeling better and light. Therapy helps in acknowledging and accepting feelings that an individual is afraid to admit. The person gains the ability to look at the problem in a different light. One may feel scared, emotional, embarrassed and vulnerable also she/he might avoid therapy sessions but after some time the person will come to terms with these changes and will gain an insight from it.
Therapy requires mutual understanding and positive relationship between the therapist and the patient. The person seeking therapy should be provided with unconditional positive regard with a non-judgemental attitude.
Just like going to the doctor is a natural response when one is down with fever or has any physical complaint, going to a psychologist/psychiatrist for therapy to achieve mental stability should be considered normal too. Therapy does not promise you eternal happiness, but it does provide you with the confidence needed to tackle problems.
Stigmas are deep-seated beliefs that are engraved in personal and public sphere. To break these stigmas you need to have positive mental health awareness. We need to break the shackles that hold our society down.
Find a BUDDY to share all your problems with (even anonymously, if you want) on the FeelJoy Mobile App available for all Android users.