By: Grace Gufler
May is Mental Health month and in honor of that, we wanted to do our part in working to eradicate the stigma of mental health. Mental health stigma has been slowly improving as our society has become more comfortable in discussing mental health topics and persons are more open to seeking therapy. There is a stigma attached to going to therapy for several reasons. Some of these include: cultural influences, religion, family values and finances. The degree of shame and embarrassment that is associated with therapy is, arguably, one of the most influential factors of mental health stigma. This blog post will discuss the stigma of therapy, and how that fosters feelings of shame that prevent persons from seeking help.
Therapy is often treated as a taboo topic and this has led to a lack of understanding, avoidance behaviors and feelings of shame. Many people believe that therapy is reserved for persons with severe mental illness and this misconception needs to be corrected. The act of going to therapy should be perceived with the same amount of respect that is given to other avenues of self-improvement. The benefits of therapy are similar to those received from going to night school, taking additional training, working for a promotion, eating healthier, taking exercise classes, etc.: therapy is a way to better yourself.
To help eradicate the stigma of mental health and therapy, there are a few things you can do. The most important, is to begin the conversation. If you are going to therapy, talk about it! Share you experience with others and help normalize the experience. Another way to do this, is to correct people who are shaming therapy or mental health in conversations. Stigma is fueled by a lack of awareness and, therefore, providing education and improving others’ understanding of mental health and therapy can be very beneficial. This can be achieved by sharing videos or articles on social media, going to a conference or presentation, or volunteering.
Therapy is an avenue for self-growth and self-improvement. There are many reasons people begin therapy, and most of them are the same every day stressors and concerns that most of us experience. There is nothing shameful about wanting to better yourself, and our conversations about therapy should reflect this.