Mental health is a curious thing. It affects every aspect of our lives, and yet many of us don’t spare it a thought — or, if we do, we choose to write off our own needs and neglect our mental healthcare.
To many of us, mental healthcare treatments like therapy are things for people who are “sick”, or at least “sicker” than us. We might go if our primary care provider tells us it’s a good idea, but we’re not likely to be proactive about things and actually tell our primary care provider that we’re experiencing symptoms of poor mental health or that we think we could benefit from therapy.
The truth is that virtually all of us could benefit from therapy. Here’s why that is, along with what you need to know about getting therapy for yourself.
Dangerous stigma and misconceptions about therapy
If there’s one major issue that keeps the typical person away from therapy, it’s stigma. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of stigma surrounding mental illness and other mental health conditions and their symptoms.
Our society sometimes takes an unkind view of those with mental illnesses, and there are all kinds of obstacles facing the mentally ill as they seek treatment and try to stay accepted by society. It’s all too easy to for a mentally ill person to become alienated, and even easier for a person with limited symptoms to choose to ignore those symptoms — and, therefore, their mental health in general.
Obviously, those with mental illnesses should seek treatment — including, but not limited to, talk therapy with a trained psychologist, counselor, or other mental health care provider. Somewhat less obviously, it’s important to remember that therapy is not just for treating mental illnesses, explain the experts at With Therapy.
Therapy is great for treating mental health issues like anxiety and depression, of course. But that’s not all that therapy is for. Cognitive behavioral therapy and other forms of therapy are great ways to build on an already clean bill of mental health. Therapy can lower your stress levels and give you strategies that help you think more clearly, elevate your mood, and improve your relationships with others.
Finding the right kind of therapy for you
It shouldn’t take much — or really, anything at all — in the way of symptoms to get you thinking about heading to a therapist’s office. Maybe you’d like to lower your stress levels, or maybe you want to try out couples therapy with your partner or spouse. Maybe you’re worried that your mood has been too low lately, or maybe you already feel fine and simply want to see if becoming more aware of your own thought patterns will make you a better person (spoiler alert: It probably will).
To get started, all you need to do is find a therapist. That’s easier to do than ever. Use a service like With Therapy or turn to your primary care provider for a referral. If you’re concerned about the cost of therapy, just give your insurance provider a call and ask about what’s covered. You may or may not have to have a written referral or visit a mental healthcare provider who is in your insurance network.
The important thing is simply to take action. Getting off the dime can be tough when you’re suffering from mental health issues (or even if you’re not), but if you get moving you can gather momentum and start making real progress with your mental health. Seeing a therapist or other mental health care professional is a great first step, and you will be able to build on that by changing your lifestyle in such a way as to improve your mental health.
As your mental health care provider will surely tell you, things like diet and exercise can have a profound effect on your mental health. Start taking your mental health seriously, and you’ll feel better and better.