Why Everyone, Including You, Needs Therapy
So, July is marked as Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and I think it's an important subject that is so taboo, yet so necessary.
Why are so many people afraid of therapy? It's a question I ask myself so many times when I encounter friends or acquaintances that tell me so many of their emotional and mental struggles. Most times I've mentioned therapy and have had people say "yeaaaaa, I've thought about it." Then you have the people that look at you like you're speaking a foreign language and change the subject. And you also have that fun group that tell you that they don't need therapy. When they VERY. CLEARLY. NEED. THERAPY. I'm pretty sure most of us are one of the above: well we've all been there, it's okay.
So why the stigma about therapy? Especially in the Black community. Why are we so afraid of talking to someone about our innermost feelings and emotions? A lot of this can be answered by the fact that as black people, we are raised to be tough, strong and never show weakness. This is something that I have disagreed with for a while now. Sure, we all know that living in a world where racism is alive and hanging out by your front door, you have to be vigilant, you have to be prepared, you have to be intellectual to fight the good fight. I get it. I understand. Trust me. Nonetheless, being "tough" and not taking care of yourself emotionally is one of the most detrimental things you can do to your well-being. Mental illness does not discrimate. I repeat: MENTAL HEALTH DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE.
Many African Americans also have concerns about treatment effectiveness, which may be due to both lack of education and cultural misgivings. Apprehension about clashing with the values or worldview of the clinician can cause ambivalence about seeking help, and this may be especially true for the many who believe that mental health treatment was designed by White people for White people. (Source)
Suffering from anxiety and depression is an illness. The same as the flu or chronic migraines. If you will go to the doctor for that, then why not go to a qualified therapist to help you heal your emotional health? I'd like to note that anxiety and depression are not the only mental illnesses that people are suffering from. There are also those who suffer from bi-polar disorder, paranoia, etc. No matter what the illness is, it is OKAY to get help. This stigma that you will be judged for going to therapy is stupid. Yes, I said it. Stupid. Who cares what OTHER people have to say about YOUR mental health? Do you see where I'm going with this? Some of the strongest people I know frequently attend therapy sessions and feel better about their issues. The proof is in the pudding.
I will say, however, people don't just go to therapy for mental illness. Sometimes you have a past issue that continues to come up in your life in forms of repetitive and destructive behavior. Many people feel like wearing the scars of our past is like holding a medallion of life's battles. Yes, it's fine to be proud of how far you've come, but the point is, you shouldn't carry that weight around and neglect your wellbeing. At the end of the day, you really could be dragging around your past and totally screwing up your future by inflicting hurt and pain on yourself and others. If you're feeling like something is holding you back from moving forward then you are suffering and you don't have to be. A great way to combat this, is going to therapy.
I speak for the Black community as I am African-American, but I know that this is a stigma that is present in tons of minority cultures. No matter what race you are, therapy and taking care of your mental health is important. More important than most people would like to think.
At the end of the day, I believe that the first goal of every day should be to be better than you were the day before. Why live your life clouded with angst, anxiety, sadness and feeling unfulfilled? No. You can fight it and be the best version of yourself you could be. Therapy is an affordable way to do just that.
Four Ways that EVERYONE can benefit from therapy:
1. Therapy can help you handle emotions from problems or stressors, even if they aren’t dramatically life-altering or traumatic.
2. Holds you accountable for your goals.
3. Talking with someone can help you find purpose.
4. A professional can help you dissect a problem — then help you figure out how to solve it.
I hope this article has shed some light on the benefits and need for therapy, especially in the Black and minority community. I want you to know that it's okay to not be okay. It's okay to get help. You're not a weak person if you do. Taking care of your mental health is the first step to living your best life and a life with the glass half full!
Here are some options for therapists in your area: