The Gift of Therapy

"You need therapy.”

“Please get help.”

“Go talk to a therapist.”

How did you read these expressions in your head? If you’re like most people, you may have read them in a negative tone, as you are used to hearing these sayings in a condescending, dismissive, or even insulting way. Many people become defensive when told they should see a therapist, because in their minds, therapy is something for “messed up” people or those who don’t know how to take care of themselves.

In reality, therapy is something that anyone can benefit from, even people whose lives are going well and who are generally happy. A good therapist will help equip you with the tools you need to handle various emotions and life events in the best way possible. And yes, while many people do go to therapy because they’re in a dark place or are going through very bad experiences, anyone can use extra support with managing their life. Just as you might go to a doctor for regular check-ups even if you are physically healthy, it’s useful to go to a therapist for regular check-ups even if you are mentally healthy.

That being said, if you are, in fact, mentally unwell, there should still be no shame in the fact that you are getting help. If anything, it’s the best thing you could be doing and an indication that you’re taking care of yourself. Many people struggling with mental illness don’t seek help, and as a result they suffer for a prolonged period of time. Those who do go into therapy are making a wise decision, and although it may take time, they usually end up happier and healthier in the long term.

So why does this stigma exist? No one thinks less of a person because they broke their arm or caught the flu. Why is there so much shame around having a mental illness? For one, awareness of mental illness has only grown in recent years. It wasn't so long ago that those who seemed “crazy” were thrown in insane asylums. Luckily, our society has progressed and most people now realize that people with mental illnesses aren’t lunatics who need to be shut away, but rather people who need some extra help. Still, the stigma remains, and there is more progress that needs to be made. Furthermore, it should be noted that this stigma is particularly prevalent in certain cultures where mental illness is still not recognized and people are taught to “suck it up.” Similarly, men are taught from an early age to hide their emotions and that it is “not manly” to cry. As a result, men are much less likely to seek help or even open up to their close friends and family about what they're dealing with.

So what can we do? The process of eliminating the stigma still has a long way to go, but we can start by normalizing therapy and mental illness, as well as correcting those who still view it in a negative light. Some people choose to be very open about their mental health, perhaps even sharing posts on social media. While not everyone may be comfortable enough to share something so personal with the world, even casually mentioning to your friends that you are going to therapy or taking medication can help to normalize these things. Similarly, if someone opens up to you about their mental well-being or treatment they’re getting, try to be supportive and nonjudgmental. This demonstrates that it is normal to go through hard times and that there is nothing wrong with getting help. After all, therapy is not about admitting defeat, but seeking support as you repair and improve upon yourself.

If you think you could use a little extra help, check out this list of therapists in the Montreal area. Many offer sliding scales and can be partially or completely covered by insurance:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/therapists/qc/montreal?gclid=Cj0KCQjw9fntBRCGARIsAGjFq5FYDwNh_Oi4Dk2A8a3R9Rgl-Ymvm6WUNvA8iBJNrqnSgnH1A4VA_l8aAuHYEALw_wcB

Even if you don’t feel that you need or can afford therapy, don’t forget the many wonderful and FREE resources available to you:

Peer Support Centre

514-398-3782

https://psc.ssmu.ca

McGill Students’ Nightline

514-398-6246

https://nightline.ssmu.ca

Vent Over Tea

https://ventovertea.com/en/