A Psych Ed Moment: May is Mental Health Awareness Month!
By Blissful Mind Behavioral Health
Let's Spring into Mental Health!
In the last several years, mental health awareness and the accessing of mental health treatment has been on the rise. Although this is a welcomed and positive change, the data still shows that we have a long way to go regarding accessing mental health treatment.
See the data below:
With this realization, I have been taking time with my clients to discuss what therapy is and isn’t. Many long-held misconceptions still make mental health treatment inaccessible or a non-viable option for many people who need it.
It is not uncommon for clients to feel or think one of the following:
· Therapy is only for someone who is “crazy.”
· Therapy services are only if someone is in crisis such as suicidal, homicidal, or having substance abuse issues.
· Or if people do enter therapy, they think that once said crisis has passed or the symptoms are decreased or eliminated, they can stop all therapeutic interventions, including medication.
· Maybe, they may even feel that they do not have any problems, so they no longer need to go to therapy (said no one EVER!!)
Before we go any further, please take some time to look at this list and see if you have had or still do have any misconceptions about what therapy is and is not:
What Therapy IS:
· Delivered by a trained professional
· Confidential, warm, empathetic, and non-judgmental
· A collaborative relationship helping you find your own solutions
· Talking about anything you want to explore- past, present, and future
· Explorative of own self and experiences
· Can be challenging/difficult within and outside of sessions
· Tailored to the individual needs of the person (e.g. interventions)
· Important that you feel a safe, and have a trusting connection with the therapist
· Can be life changing
What Therapy IS NOT:
· Telling you what to do
· Giving advice
· Going to automatically make you feel better by just attending
· Just listening and agreeing with everything you say
· Changing others in your life
I would venture to say that almost all clients I have encountered, have had one of these thoughts. This goes back to mental health not being normalized or correctly understood and defined. From my observations, we treat mental health services much like we do physical health
services. If we are hurt, sick, or are in pain, we go see the doctor. And when the pain, illness, or trouble subsides or goes away, we do not return to the doctor until the next issue arises. However, we fail to realize that there are some very important things we are not considering when we treat any part of our TOTAL wellness with this approach.
I now realize that there is nothing, I repeat nothing, that is "set it, and forget it."
Even if you are not going to the doctor every month, you are doing things such as, trying to eat healthy, possibly going to the gym, trying to get sleep etc. These are all things we do to invest in continued health and wellness.
If you think about things in a larger sense, you will quickly realize that there is nothing that you can do only once, twice, even three, four, or five times that will allow you to never readdress or deal with it ever again. Think about it…homes, vehicles, career, money, even skin and hair etc. the list can go on and on!! But when it comes to a very big component of our overall wellness, our mental health, we will play fast and loose. By that I mean, we will try to set it and forget it by thinking things such as “If I am not in any pain, struggling, and/or I am not going to harm myself or others, I must be okay.” We all know that this thought is the furthest thing from the truth.
To continue to invest in mental health, it takes possibly getting involved in therapy, but therapy is only one piece to the puzzle. Your overall mental health, such as doing things such as self-care, and no, I do not mean facials and massages, I mean getting sufficient sleep, involving ourselves in enriching, important activities, movement, setting meaningful boundaries, improving positive communication etc. are lifelong skills that we have to continue to invest in. With all that said, to think that we can go to therapy a handful of times in our life and think our mental health has been taken care of sufficiently, seems irrational.
So, what can you do increase your consistent, regular investment in your mental health?
· If you’re going to therapy, make sure that you are developing an open relationship with your therapist so that you can ask questions and get what you need from the experience.
· Take time to invest in your self-care as often possible.
Self-care includes everything from regular sleep, movement, regular enrichment activities, and regular and investment in socialization and positive support systems.
And when you think you have done enough, do more, keep going!
With May being mental health awareness month, I wanted to ask any and everybody who took the time out to read this article to ask themselves…what have you done to invest and your mental health today?!
Happy Mental Health Awareness Month!
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Mental Health America. https://www.mhanational.org/issues/state-mental-health-america
Davies, Charli. What Counseling is and Isn’t.