Therapy and the field of mental health, while it seems a subtle shift is occurring, is often still stigmatized. I often hear clients say: “I haven’t told my family I am in counseling”; “I don’t want to tell people I am talking to someone”; ”I don’t want them to think I’m crazy”; “They’ll think were headed for divorce”; “you must work with some crazy people”. It seems that when tragedy happens, the first thing that people look at is mental health status and was the person in treatment? The reality is that 20% percent of people experience a mental health condition every year (NAMI, 2015), albeit only 5% of people live with serious mental illness.
So what does that mean? It means that every year 20% of people have some experiences that they feel overwhelmed with and need support. These people are not, by any means, ‘CRAZY’ or have serious or persistent mental illness. It means that many individuals end up in counseling due to relationship struggles, anxiety/stress, grief or loss, divorce, parenting struggles, major life changes, which are all very normal life experiences. Even when one has more intense symptoms or more severe maladaptive behavior, this often stems from having experienced so much pain, hurt, and trauma. Makes sense, right? Certainly not “crazy”.
There is no shame and nor should there be a stigma for someone who wants to get some support in navigating these life circumstances. Therapy can help one live authentically and fully. Sometimes having an unbiased set of ears can help tremendously.