I have been to therapy; there I have said it to an online audience no less. And I am by no means ashamed. However, there still exists a huge taboo around therapy; particularly in Good ‘Ol Blighty where we are very good at hiding our emotions beneath a stiff upper lip. People are scared to say they’ve been to therapy and even more scared to admit that they have mental health issues. Lest we start to envision scenes from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest — which obviously is completely erroneous — here are some reasons for why we really need to stop the therapy taboo.
1. You are not alone
According to the fantastic resource that is Mind — a charity that aims to help support those who are suffering due to mental health issues — approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year, with 7.8 in every 100 people suffering from mild anxiety and depression whilst 5.9 in 100 people suffer from generalised anxiety disorder. So you are by no means alone, not by a long shot.
2. Professional help
There is a huge stigma surrounding seeking professional help, which to me just seems ludicrous. In much the same way that if you break your leg or catch pneumonia you would immediately check yourself into the nearest hospital, when you are struggling with a mental health problem you may need professional help in order to take the best possible care of yourself.
3. Mental health isn’t a constant
I think with mental health there is this idea that you can be ‘fixed’ and that at a certain point things are done and dusted. However, mental health is a constant balancing act and good days, months or even years can be followed by periods of profound and intolerable darkness. Mental health requires constant maintenance and sometimes may mean revisiting the option of therapy.
4. There are different sorts of therapy
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to therapy and there really are a whole world of options out there. So if you do attempt therapy and find it doesn’t work; that doesn’t mean the entire system is flawed, but rather that this specific option wasn’t right for you. Do some research, ask around and see if there isn’t a therapist or service better suited for your needs.
Gosh … this taboo is even bigger than therapy. It’s something we just don’t even talk about, but according to the Samaritans in 2015 (a little out-of-date I know, but the best I could find) there were 6,639 suicides in the UK and Ireland. This is far too high a number and reveals just how many people are suffering to an untenable degree. Worse still, in many of these cases the family and friends simply did not know that their loved one was suffering.
So, if you or anyone you know is suffering from mental illness please do feel free to contact Mind on 0208 519 2122 or email them on firstname.lastname@example.org.