Mental health issues impact a significant number of individuals globally. Depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental illnesses can adversely affect individuals’ overall well-being if left untreated. Unfortunately, negative stereotypes and misconceptions about mental health issues have persisted for centuries despite ongoing campaigns to address them.
Counselling has proven to be an effective treatment option for many patients grappling with mental health challenges. This article will explore the importance of counselling in tackling the stigma surrounding mental illness while dispelling common misconceptions that may deter those in need from seeking care.
What Is Counselling?
Counselling refers to psychotherapy conducted by trained professionals or licensed therapists with a Master of Counselling degree to assist clients in overcoming problems related to their physical, emotional, or mental well-being. It provides an opportunity for individuals experiencing stress or psychological symptoms to discuss their concerns with someone who is empathetic and supportive.
Therapeutic approaches vary based on the therapist’s training but often encompass cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), mindfulness-based practices such as meditation and guided imagery, as well as art therapy methods like music therapy.
A common challenge faced by people living with mental illnesses is prejudice stemming from the persistent stigmatisation linked to such diagnoses – from job segregation to negative perceptions within families. Societal attitudes towards individuals living with psychiatric conditions permeate daily life.
Stigmas can dissuade vulnerable populations from accessing support services, ranging from personalised counselling sessions aimed at helping them cope with challenging situations to more intensive interventions like hospitalisation under close clinical supervision when necessary. Derogatory remarks directed at those currently diagnosed create barriers, making it even more difficult for them to access help within systems specifically designed to prevent more serious complications.
It’s crucial for society to educate itself on and recognise mental illness, viewing individuals struggling with it as heroes rather than outcasts. Counselling can assist clients in building resilience against societal resistance and equip them with tools to confidently discuss their issues within their social circles. This, in turn, helps others perceive these issues differently through personal experiences that debunk myths, such as the common but incorrect misconceptions that ‘they’re faking it’ or ‘mental illness is a sign of weakness’.
There is a gamut of misconceptions around mental health as well as the available resources to support it. The following, however, are the three most common ones:
Misconception #1: Therapy Signifies Weakness
One prevalent fallacy surrounding therapy dissuades countless individuals from seeking help. People often perceive counselling as an admission of profound incapacity, leading some to conceal their struggles for years without access to the interpersonal validation they need. These individuals might work towards recovery by addressing psychological disorders they experience, confronting various forms of discrimination, and engaging with resources like holistic health practices, including yoga classes and more traditional spiritually oriented methods.
Misconception #2: Instantaneous Results
Another myth surrounding therapeutic interventions alleges that therapy provides only immediate effects on clients before resolving issues permanently. While many patients report positive changes immediately after counselling sessions, research shows that progress depends on numerous contextual factors beyond the therapist’s control. Effective treatment often involves community involvement to ensure sustainable healing, particularly when faced with chronic, acute stressors.
Misconception #3: Costly Counselling
The associated costs often discourage disadvantaged individuals in both developing and developed nations worldwide from seeking essential services that facilitate effective self-care. These costs can reduce the quality of life, impacting one’s ability to lead a meaningful existence. To bridge gaps in access to help, strategies must be charted to address differing financial and social conditions locally and globally.
Stigma related to mental illness has plagued society for centuries. Unfortunately, negative stereotypes and misconceptions have deterred many individuals with mental illnesses from seeking professional support. Despite available solutions such as counselling or therapy sessions through professionals at specialised clinics, hospitals, tertiary institutions, and community programs, barriers persist.
To promote healing, it’s crucial to educate the public about myths and media-driven sensationalism. Collaborative efforts between policymakers, mental health experts, medical subsystems, and community stakeholders can transform lives, promoting equitable access to justice and enhancing mental well-being.