In recognition of Counseling Awareness Month (April) and Mental Health Awareness Month (May), this week's #WellnessWednesday blog will focus on overcoming the stigma of seeking counseling services.
Unraveling the Stigma
We take sick days when we don't feel well and go to the doctor when are symptoms are difficult to manage (scratchy sore throat, stomach pain, back pain) and readily take antibitics and medication to feel better, yet few of us immediately schedule a therapy appointment when we are experiencing emotional issues. We take our children to the doctor for an annual checkup but often don't consider a mental health checkup.
Why? Because many feel they are supposed to "suck it up", push through the pain and move forward. Or they are told you don't seek outside help for personal problems. If we can submit to a physical exam by a trusted doctor, why can't we go see a counselor? Perhaps we are afraid of gaining an awareness of the impact our issues are having on our personal lives or worry we will be judged? Does it mean we are crazy if we seek therapy? Need of support, yes; but crazy?
Mental health and stability is on a continuum... A mother of three getting a divorce is not "crazy", but she likely needs some help and encouragement, along with her ex to help her children adjust and preparing to be a single parent. A teenager being bullied at school is not "crazy", though he/she needs support from her parents, school administrators and a therapist to feel safe anddevelop healthy self-esteem.
Some Relevant Mental Health Stats You Need to Know:
-In 2011, 72% of Kansas children, ages 2-17, received mental health counseling
-10-15% of children and teens are depressed at any given time
-1 out of 4 adolescents will have a major depressive episode in high school, starting at age 14
-Suicide is the leading cause of death for teens (https://psychcentral.com/lib/depression-in-teens-and-children/)
Adults with anxiety disorders are:
-3-5x likely to go to the doctor
-6x more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders
Let's ponder this for a moment... Suicide, is the leading cause of death amoung teens, ahead of drug abuse, drunk driving and cancer. We, as adults, have missed the boat when it comes to meeting the emotional needs of teens. Suicide, happens for one reason and one reason only: the person's desire to die and end suffering overcomes any joy, happiness or will to live. Sober yet? I hope so!
Counseling: Why Mental Health Checkups Matter
Complex trauma and chronic stress have a significant negative impact on physical health, academics, social and emotional issues throughout life. They also change the way the brain processes information, impacting nutrition, weight, physical abilities, irritability and the development of empathy and compassion. In addition, they can affect the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for focus, attention, problem solving and completing tasks.
Regular mental health checkups can help prevent or reduce emotional instability as well as improve academic, social and financial stress. When choosing a therapist, ask about their background and knowledge in treating the issue you are facing.
If you are interested in learning more or would like to schedule an appointment, please call 913-244-8786.
Until next time,
Sara Minges, LPC
individuals, communities, governments and organizations have provided a disservice to people struggling with emotional issues.