Mental health is a touchy subject to talk about because of the stigma surrounding it. 1 in 4 people have a mental illness, yet many insurance companies do not cover therapy sessions or psychiatrist visits. May is not the only month that should be dedicated to taking care of one's mental health.

What Is It?

Mental Health America has been promoting May as Mental Health Month since 1949. Mental Health Month is meant to provide awareness about mental health through media outlets, local events, and screenings. Just as we take care of our physical bodies every day, we need to do the same for our minds.

Stigma Around Therapy

I have struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember, but it reached a point where I could not function properly. I always brushed off my anxiety saying, "it's just who I am" or "it's fine," when in reality it wasn't. I asked my parents if there was anything that could be done to alleviate some of the suffering I was dealing with on a daily basis and they told me I could see a psychologist. 

My first reaction when to when they told me about the possibility a psychologist was more negative than positive. My immediate response was to say: "I'm not crazy. Psychologists are for crazy people." I knew that this belief was not only mine, but that of many people around the world who have associated seeing a therapist with being crazy or psychotic.

I was desperate for help so I decided to go further and make an appointment. The first few sessions were scary because I was  basically telling a stranger all of my secrets, worries, and problems. After the first few sessions, I began to open up and address the issues that were bothering me and it really helped. 

While I am taking a break from therapy, it is definitely something I am going to incorporate into my routine when I need a boost in the future.

Letter To My Therapist

Dear Therapist,

The first day I met you I honestly did not know what to expect. I was so nervous and embarrassed because I was ashamed of my own thoughts and behaviors. You welcomed me into your office and encouraged me to be authentically myself. When I would tell you my darkest secrets and deepest fears, you did not judge me, but instead you wanted to help me work through them and come up with rational solutions.

From anxiety and depression to OCD and eating disorders, you helped me to understand how it is okay to have these problems and it does not make me "crazy" because I do. You would always push me to stop making harsh judgements and be more compassionate towards myself and others. It is when I realized that it is okay to make mistakes and it is possible to learn from them is truly truly when began to feel better. 

I still have days where I take two steps back, but you help me to realize how I have made a step forward despite the setbacks. You helped me to realize that while I might have mental health problems, it does not define who I am as a person. I am still just as capable as other people, but sometimes I might just have to work harder which is okay. Without your support, I truly don't know where I would be today and I am forever grateful. 

Final Thoughts

While the thought of seeing a therapist might seem overwhelming, the first step is to make an appointment. You will never know your true thoughts on it until you participate in it yourself. Many college campuses offer free or low cost counseling to students which you should definitely take advantage of because out in the real world a 45 minute session could cost you between $200-400. Even if you do not think you could benefit from therapy, there is always room for self improvement and reflection.