Why Is Counseling Weird?
It's 2019 but there's still something taboo about mental illness and mental health concerns. A lot of it, unfortunately, has to do with a widespread lack of education about what mental illness is and how prevalent it is. Over 20% of people will have a diagnosable mental illness at some point in their lives , yet we still have trouble talking about it and understanding it, which makes looking for help something that a lot of people are ashamed of. Only half of those with mental illness ever seek treatment, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
For as much as he contributed to the field, Sigmund Freud messed us up. For a lot of people, "therapy" and "counseling" still conjure images of people lying on couches talking about their mothers. Mental illness has also been stigmatized through film and other cultural elements. The word "psycho" is still used as a pejorative (thanks a lot, Hitchcock). Combine a lack of education with the stigma associated with mental illness, and reaching out for help can seem uncomfortable. I've had countless people tell me that seeking therapy seems like a sign of weakness. While many spiritual communities are fantastic about pointing their members in the right direction for mental health treatment, I've found many that still view mental illness as a spiritual defect that just needs more prayer or more faith.
But nothing could be further from the truth. If you had diabetes and told me you were going to tough it out because using insulin and testing your blood sugar was a sign of weakness, we'd have to have a serious heart to heart. If you had high blood pressure and thought taking medications for it meant that you had failed, I'd encourage you to reconsider for the sake of your well-being.
So why is mental health any different? Why is counseling weird? It's not and it's not. Take care of yourself.