Beating the Stigma of Mental Health
Sadly, the term mental health carries a hefty negative connotation. One that is difficult to overcome. Many people don’t like mentioning they’ve seen a psychotherapist because they’re worried that people will think there’s something wrong with them. But, does the term need to be so fraught?
The ‘something wrong with you’ opinion is a cultural one. Americans have a much different view of therapy. As chat show host Johnny Carson once famously said, “In Hollywood, people think you’re crazy if you don’t see a shrink.”
Mental health issues are more common than you might think. In the UK, one in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives. However, most people fully recover from those issues.
But, the stigma it comes with means that people are often reluctant to talk about these problems with their friends and family and are even more reluctant to go and seek professional help.
The problem is one of perception. No one thinks there’s anything wrong with you if you say you’re going on a diet, or taking up jogging, have just had a massage, or have joined a gym and hired a personal trainer.
No one thinks it’s weird if you visit your doctor when you are sick, or have a strange ailment that is plaguing you, or are having an operation to remove that problematic thingy. In fact, they think you’re weird if you don’t.
In short, there is no stigma attached to looking after your physical health.
But, your mind is a much more complicated piece of machinery. And it is your mind that looks after your body. If you’re happy enough and comfortable enough to seek help when looking after your physical health, why not be as equally happy and comfortable when seeking out help with your mental health?
Why not think of a counsellor or psychotherapist, as a personal trainer, or doctor, or even as a massage therapist, but for your mind? Someone with a little expert knowhow who, over the course of a few sessions, is going to get your mind fighting fit in the same way that a gym instructor would get your body fighting fit.
Having a mental health problem does not mean you are mental, it just means a few things have gotten out of your control in the same way that a few pounds can get your weight out of control.
Make this tiny little shift in perception, share that perception with all whom you meet and, pretty soon, there will be no stigma, just a trained professional helping you get back on track.