Why We Need To End The Stigma Around Therapy

During my sophomore year of high school, I noticed a major shift in my overall mood, my personality and my relationships with my friends and family. I became more withdrawn, more secretive, I lost motivation and simply did not feel happy. It took me a full year to muster up the courage and ask my mom to find me a psychologist. I knew I needed professional help. By the time junior year started, I started weekly therapy.

At first, I was extremely uncomfortable opening up to a stranger and verbalizing the deep/dark thoughts I had for the first time ever. However, therapy eventually became my favorite hour of the week throughout my last two years of high school. I got help with my high levels of stress, coping with social anxiety and other personal issues. During my first year of college, I only went to therapy three to four times. I went back that following summer and have been going every chance that I get. Even though I am in much a better state mentally, compared to my high school days, I still value therapy so much. It has helped me in almost every aspect of my life. I get the chance to hear and understand a new perspective on problems I am experiencing. I do not take my privilege to go to therapy for granted.

Nowadays, discussing mental health has become easier. Whether it be about a mental disorder, experiencing an emotional trauma or simply feeling more down as usual, seeking out help and getting that additional support is becoming more common. This has not only spread more awareness on the importance of mental health, but it has also allowed others to feel like they are not alone while going through a hard time in their life. However, there is still a stigma attached to mental disorders and actively getting help for it. There seems to be a lack of agreement between the current generation and the previous one. Parents of today’s generation sometimes seem to think that going to therapy or being medicated for a mental health problem isn’t socially accetable. I have found that these ideas mostly come from parents with Middle Eastern or Asian backgrounds. Thankfully, more and more of these families have conformed to Westernized thinking, and they have been noticing the importance of mental health.

Others are not as lucky as me. Both of my parents have been extremely supportive and understanding for my need to attend therapy sessions. One of my closest friends struggles with her own demons, and she recognized that she needs help, yet she is scared to ask her parents for guidance on the matter. This is because her parents don’t believe in therapy and don’t want their daughter to go. Unfortunately, this is a common state of mind for many parents today. Either they find therapy a waste of money and time, or simply believe that talking through such problems with a trained professional won’t be beneficial. In reality, therapy and medication together is scientifically proven to be of utmost help to people who suffer from mental health problems.

Another one of my good friends, who is an Asian descendant, recently was approached by her mom with the offer to attend therapy sessions. Initially, she was beyond shocked that her mother would suggest getting help. This simply proves that old ways of thinking can change. In order to break the stigma attached to attending therapy, there needs to be more communication of information. Being aware of the benefits of therapy is often the major deal breaker for households that are strict on this matter. From personal experience, the benefits of going to therapy are astounding. You can get thoughts and feelings you may be ashamed of off your shoulder, you can have a third party support system and be in a safe environment while discussing more delicate topics.

Parents and other adults will hopefully continue to recognize that therapy is a useful approach for those who may have an onset of mental health problems. Parents of children who suffer from such problems should feel proud that their child has enough courage to want to get better. Trust me, it is not an easy thing to do.