I've never met a person who had no room for improvement.
I've been pondering the reasons/excuses/barriers people have when it comes to seeking mental health services. I recently asked on the After The Rainn facebook page what others thought, and the following are some of the responses I received. I tried to categorize them as much as I could.
"What other people may think of them."
"The stigma that goes along with having a mental health problem"
"Misconception that seeing a mental health counselor = crazy."
"Fear of judgment from someone who knows nothing about what is going on in their lives."
"Fear of admitting that something is wrong and that it's something they can't handle on their own."
"Shame that they can't handle a problem on their own.
"Fear in admitting that you have a problem."
"I think that saying 'mental health' may be more offputting as it has an underlying tone of "maybe I am crazy" rather than "i just need some guidance""
"the culture in this area...it's not "socially acceptable" to talk about your problems and pay someone to listen...i think that this is more of a "put on your big girl panties" and deal with it kind of culture where kids are taught not to cry and talk about feelings."
"Difficulty discussing feelings/problems."
"Fear of failure even with professional help."
"Fear of hearing the feedback for your feelings/problems."
(rural areas) "the reality that you know who the counselors/therapists are outside of the therapy setting."
"I would worry about confidentiality and from experience I can say it sucks running into people at the grocery store who know all about your dirty laundry..."
Not knowing who to see
Lack of available resources
"Denying that they need help."
"Some people believe there is nothing wrong with them and everyone else around them is at fault."
"Inability to recognize that there is a problem."
"Don't think their condition is worthy of a MHC."
Looking at the list of responses I received, it would seem that the majority are about social fears/a stigma attached to mental health services.
I'm going to suggest 5 reasons to consider seeing a mental health counselor.
1. Nobody has it ALL together. Everyone has areas of weakness and areas of strength, and talking to someone who is neutral ( and trained) can help give you great insight into your own weaknesses and strengths so you can make the best of both. This can be especially helpful in times of transition (education, career, relationships, moving to a new place, marriage, divorce, etc.).
2. Counselors are trained to help you process difficult life experiences, meaning that it's our job to help you find some peace with or meaning in the potentially traumatic experiences in your life. In reality, we all have difficult, painful experiences (some more than others). If we're not finding some kind of peace with them, they don't go away, they are just swept under the rug with everything else; and after a while, it's easy to trip over the rug.
3. We all form bad habits in how we relate to others and ourselves. This could come in many forms, such as negative, unrealistic messages (like telling yourself that you are always a failure or you just can't do anything right...), or just focusing on your own wants to see your loved ones' needs.
4. Often, mental health symptoms may be rooted in physical health problems, but if you are not discussing them with mental health/health professionals, you may be missing something!
5. It's okay to ask for help. If you are not feeling well physically, it's okay to ask a doctor for help. If you are not feeling well spiritually, it's okay to ask a pastor/spiritual leader for help. If you are not feeling well over-all, it's okay to ask a counselor for help!
If you're not ignoring your physical needs, don't ignore your spiritual or mental/emotional needs either!!
If you are having difficulty finding resources, check your local yellow pages or go to www.medovin.com to find a counselor licensed in your state for distance/online counseling (this form of counseling is not for emergencies or those under 18 years of age, who would need to find a local mental health provider instead).
If you are seeking mental health services in Kentucky via online video-based chat (and you are not among my family and friends because that would be a conflict of interest), visit my counseling page at http://counseling.aftertherainn.com.
As a mental health counselor, I believe that everyone can benefit from mental health services. Consider it finding a life-consultant!
Wishing you peace, health, and healing!