The Stigma Surrounding Therapy and Mental Health

Ava Garcia, Staff Writer

The word “stigma” means, “the mark of disgrace associated with a particular topic.” This word has been thrown around in many conversations; one in particular being when the word coincides with therapy and mental health. 

All too often, mental health is put on the back burner especially in high school when academics become the number one priority for many students. Although school is among one of many priorities, allowing one’s mental health to continuously worsen is not the answer. The idea of mental health should not be something for one to feel any shame about. 

Therapy is often equated to weakness; however, it is the exact opposite. Seeking help and guidance can prove challenging for many people; therefore, some turn to therapy. Therapy serves as a way to talk to someone who has no previous knowledge of you or any bias towards the situations you have or are going through. This is why therapy can serve as something cathartic; it is a way to talk to someone and express your feelings without the constant worry of being judged.

Talk therapy has been proven to benefit the overall mental health of individuals around the world. However, this stigma surrounding therapy has been shown to worsen the recovery of an individual’s mental health. A 2017 study found that more than 200 individuals with a mental health illness have a greater self-stigma, which associates with poorer recovery from mental illness after up to two years. 

Having a therapist should not be construed in such an obstructive way. Most overlook the fact that a therapeutic relationship is vastly different from any other. Not only is a therapist a professional, but they become the one person in your life that you can fully allow to enter your struggles. Many times, people decide to open up to their therapist about topics they have never shared before, and the trust built between a therapist and their client throughout each session is irreplaceable.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, an estimated 75% of people have shown some type of benefit or improvement after entering therapy. People tend to make misleading claims pertaining to mental health; some say this is merely a myth, while others may say it flat out does not work, but research from an overwhelming amount of organizations proves otherwise. 

Putting all your trust in a stranger is the task at hand when starting therapy. It takes great strength to express emotions, especially if you never have before. Before passing judgment on those who seek help, try to understand the courage and strength it takes for them to do so. 

It is unrealistic to say that society can fully abolish the stigma surrounding therapy. Many maintain these strong opinions no matter what evidence one uses to back them up. These statements circulating the internet will not vanish and the stigma will continue to spread negativity. Although these comments continue to be made, the validity of therapy will not go unshown. As time passes, research continues to develop, providing us with a broader perspective on the benefits of therapy. Normalizing the negativity towards therapy allows for future generations to continue the stigma. In addition, if we understand the positive outcomes that therapy has on the human psyche, then that can allow others to fully grasp that the de-stigmatization of therapy can only better our society.