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Sadly, mental health challenges are a prevalent issue in our society and, worse still, are widely misunderstood. Everyone has mental health, and just like physical health, problems with it can range from mild to debilitating. Regrettably, not everyone understands how mental health affects others, or even themselves.
This article will explore the myth that therapy is only for those with a severe mental illness.
Mental health includes emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Good mental health is essential at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through to adulthood.
Throughout your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, and behaviour could be affected. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:
According to Mind, approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year and 1 in 6 people in England experience a common mental health problem in any given week – such as anxiety and depression. What's more, suicide continues to be a leading cause of death in the UK for men under 50. Men are three times more likely to die by suicide than women, which is often attributable to the stigma surrounding mental health and "manning up".
Therapy helps people from all walks of life, whether you have severe mental health conditions or would just like to talk to someone to check in on your own mental health. The notion that counselling is only for those with serious mental illness causes people to wait several years before seeking help for their issues. This causes the problem to compound and makes it harder to remedy because it hasn't been addressed in so long. The earlier a mental health issue is identified and treated, the better the prognosis for that individual.
This couldn't be further from the truth and is one of the most dangerous myths. There is no doubt that therapy is beneficial for those struggling with severe mental health concerns but assuming it is only for this group of individuals is backwards.
Therapy can teach you what you need to do to take care of your mental health, which inevitably lowers the risk of severe mental health issues in the future. So, why wait until things are really bad to seek help? Waiting because you have to be going crazy before seeking therapy is the fuel that feeds the stigma around mental health. Counselling should be and needs to be as common as seeing your doctor or dentist for a check-up. Therapy is for all problems – big and small. It should be tailored for where you are in your mental health journey and progress as you do.
Managing mental health challenges is not equivalent to sleeping off a bad mood or a rough day. You wouldn't ask someone to "snap back" a broken bone into place, so why would you say the same thing about mental health conditions that also need proper time and care to heal?
The reality with many mental health conditions is that they are often profoundly rooted challenges in a person's mindset or a chemical imbalance. These are not things that you can simply snap out of. Just like you may be wired to write in a certain way after years of practice, a person's brain may become wired to think and feel a certain way – often after months or years of difficulties and challenging circumstances in life. Other times, conditions run in the family, meaning they are more vulnerable than others.
Keep in mind that some people can have a hard time recognising – let alone admitting – that they have a mental health challenge. It can make them feel "weak" or like they're a "failure" in a society that actively celebrates resilience. Using phrases like "snap out of it" or "that's just life" can seriously hinder a person's ability to recognise they may need help. It implies that there's nothing wrong and they need to just get on with it.
Whatever the case may be, our focus should be on encouraging people to look after themselves.
Mental health is not exclusive to certain types of people. Anyone can experience poor mental health, just like anyone can experience poor physical health.
The difference between the two is that more people can recognise a broken leg than they can a struggling mindset, whether that's in others or themselves. Many people may not realise that low moods, difficulties concentrating, or reluctance to engage in certain activities can sometimes be attributed to mental health and are not just as simple as someone "having a bad day".
Remember, though, you're not alone. There are people willing and waiting to help. Get in touch with Restoration Therapy, and we'll put you in touch with a counsellor.