Stigma = Judgment
Many people stay away from counseling because of the stigmas that are out there; stigma, a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.
Some of the stigmas about counseling are:
· “Counseling doesn’t work”
· “People, including the counselor, will think I’m crazy or psycho”
· “Counseling is not needed, it’s just a phase and they should just “snap out of it”
· “The counselor will tell talk about me and my situation to others”
· “Counselors don’t really care, they’re just in it for the money”
· “I’m going to have to be in therapy forever”
· “If you have a mental disorder or illness, there is something wrong with you”
…the list goes on and on.
But this isn’t anything new, even though 1 in 5 Americans experience mental illness each year, yes go ahead look around the room you’re sitting in, someone or many in that room are experiencing one or more mental illnesses right now, we still treat each other with a lack of empathy when it comes to mental health. Why is that?
In ancient times, people with mental health disorders were believed to have been possessed by demons, under witchcraft spells, or punished by an angry god. In later centuries, people with mental health disorders were placed in asylums but not in order to treat their condition but to ostracize them; they were a burden to society. In 2019 do we still believe those with mental health disorders/illness are possessed? Maybe in some cultures they still do. Do we still believe those with mental health disorders/illness should be shunned from “normal society”? Could that be the reason why there is so much stigma around treatment for mental health disorders/illness? Are they the “walking wounded” that keep the herd from advancing? But are we not all “walking wounded”?
Stigma, “a mark of disgrace”, but by whose standards? When it comes down to it, it is people judging each other that cause stigmas.
Whoever said “counseling doesn’t work” probably did not put in the work that was needed to be done in order to heal, to change or has never read reports on countless patients that have recovered from mental health disorders/illnesses due to counseling.
Whoever said “people, including the counselor, will think I’m crazy or psycho”, must be a psychic knowing what everyone is thinking. Counselors/Therapists do not use the words crazy or psycho when talking to or describing their clients.
Whoever said “counseling is not needed, it’s just a phase and they should just “snap out of it”’, has never met a person with Schizophrenia.
Whoever said “the counselor will talk about me and tell my situation to others”, clearly has ever been to counseling, and read the HIPAA Privacy Policies, and signed a confidentiality agreement, and does not know that if a counselor talks about them outside of that agreement (unless it is for supervision, or the client’s safety or the safety of others), may lose their license.
Whoever said “counselors don’t really care, they’re just in it for the money”, clearly does not know what the profession pays!
Whoever said “I’m going to have to be in therapy forever”, needs reassurance that many people recover from mental health disorders in short spans of time (depending on the disorder, amount of counseling sessions attended, and work done by the individual).
Whoever said “if you have a mental illness or disorder, there is something wrong with you” is clearly perfect, we should find them, and clone their DNA!
If we get have allergies or migraines, or any other sickness, we often run to the doctor to have him/her assess the symptoms and give us medicine so that we can start to feel better.
Why do we not do that when it comes to our mental health? Why do we allow our minds to continue to get more and more sick? It is time to stop judging each other for wanting to better ourselves. It is time we start to empower one another, so that change takes place and we embrace a new era. It is time to make going to a counselor/therapist as normal as going to a medical doctor or even the gym, something that you do to for yourself, to take care of yourself.
Wishing you peace and blessings,
Claudia Abalo. LMHC
FOR STEPS ON COPING WITH STIGMA, please click the link below: