Mental health has slowly started taking center stage in the last few years. However, centuries of misinformation and denial are still present, and millions believe these myths and misconceptions. People still feel embarrassed, anxious, and nervous while visiting a counselor. Moreover, a significant fraction of the general public still continues to stigmatize seeking therapy.
Let us discuss some common myths and misconceptions regarding mental health and counseling and what we can do about them.
Misconceptions Regarding Counseling
1. Counseling is only for people with serious mental problems
As a lot of stigma surrounds the idea of counseling, people tend to believe that only individuals who are suffering from serious psychological disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar or manic disorder, and MPD need counseling.
However, the reality is quite different. Many individuals seek counseling for problems such as relationship issues, stress, burnout, etc. In fact, as the number of people who require therapy for mental health issues such as depression and anxiety increases, the service gap in the counseling industry increases. For this reason, more individuals are opting for a masters in community mental health degree to fulfill these demands and provide counseling services to members of a community. This program helps individuals learn about counseling and help diverse clients, including children, seniors, families, and couples.
The main reason why healthcare providers encourage individuals to seek counseling for small issues is that counseling can be a preventative step. It can prevent these issues from festering and growing into serious mental health concerns.
2. Talking to friends and family is sufficient enough
Another popular misconception in the general population is that counseling is only about venting problems and seeking advice. For this reason, they believe that friends and family can play this role effectively.
The reality is that while support from friends and family is crucial for mental health recovery, counseling is a very different procedure. As opposed to your friends and family, a counselor is a trained and knowledgeable professional who possesses the special skills required for diagnosing and treating a patient. They know how to deal with a range of emotional, cognitive, and behavioral issues. Moreover, the lack of personal connection and confidentiality ensures that you can be completely honest, as opposed to with your family and friends.
3. I tried counseling, and it is ineffective for me
Sometimes, one bad experience puts a person off counseling completely. They then assume that the process will be the same, so will be every counselor.
However, the reality is that just because one counselor couldn’t help you get better doesn’t mean that it is completely ineffective on you. In this case, just like any other doctor, you should opt to get a second opinion from another counselor.
Misconceptions Regarding Mental Health
1. Mental health issues are uncommon
One of the most significant reasons people still fail to acknowledge mental health issues is that they believe they are uncommon. In reality, nearly one in five adults in the United States has a mental illness or psychological disorder. Moreover, depression happens to be the most common psychological issue, and the number of people who experience depression has drastically increased during the Covid-19 pandemic.
2. People with mental health conditions can’t work
Another common misconception among people is that they believe anyone with a mental health issue cannot work or retain a job.
Needless to say, this is a huge misconception that negatively impacts the lives of many people. While it is true to some extent for people who suffer from severe psychological illnesses, the majority of the population can remain productive.
But this misconception impacts the lives of people who are already suffering from some form of mental illness.
3. Mental health problem is a sign of weakness
People blame mental health issues on the individual, claiming that their weak will, religious beliefs, or sensitivity are the root of the problem. However, just like a broken bone isn’t a sign that the person is weak, a mental health disorder doesn’t reflect their will and strength.
Mental health problems are illnesses, just like any other disease that affects the body. People who experience depression can’t be happy just because someone gave them a reason, just like a person can’t mend a broken bone just because someone demands it. You need the right tools to get to the end goal and that’s where therapy and counseling come in.
There are still many misconceptions surrounding mental health and counseling which cannot be eradicated soon. After all, it took centuries for people even to acknowledge the significance of mental health.
You can play your role in supporting your loved one who suffers from mental illnesses through tough times. Your acceptance of their emotions and state, as well as your initiative to educate others, can make all the difference in the world.