As I have had some therapy over the years I thought I’d shed some light on it.
Even in 2018 the discussion of having therapy (or a mental health issue) can feel taboo or embarrassing. Thank God we will live in a time where there is information readily available & you can get help if it’s needed. Though in the UK we are making significant strides in inclusivity and diversity, there is more to be done.
In African cultures like mine, (Nigerian), mental health is not a topic of discussion. It’s seen as drama or an excuse a lot of the time. The truth is, there is still a lot stigma attached to it. Almost as though the focus is not on how you feel as an individual, but how it will reflect on your family’s image. Regardless; whether you’re male or female, you are allowed to not be okay.
I specify the genders as I feel the experience of mental health & getting support for it is entirely different. While women are more likely to be supported, men often fall through the cracks & aren’t taken seriously. This is not fair! Mental health matters, no matter who you are. More importantly, you are allowed to ask for help.
Q: What’s the point of therapy?
A: It can also help you to explore your feelings about a particularly traumatic experience in your life, or it can help you to vocalise something that you are harbouring internally. Bare in mind it may be emotive though.
Q: What is therapy like?
A: Think of it as a conversation with someone who has been trained to understand human emotions and can help you better understand yourself, your habits or your thought process.
Q: How do you go about getting it?
A: You can go to your GP and ask them to refer you, you can self refer, you can use the NHS website to find a service near you. If you’re a student at university get in touch with your Wellbeing centre and have a chat about the services they offer.
Q: How do you know if you need it?
A: This a tough one, because you may not know. It may be someone close to you that highlights that you are not your normal self. As a rule of thumb, if you feel that something has significantly changed in your disposition or you are feeling more demoralised than usual, this may be a good indicator. It does depend on both the individual and their responses to stressful situations or past trauma.
Q: Will they just throw drugs at me?
A: No! You may not need any form of medication, you may just need to express yourself. Either way, the therapist can make a recommendation, (unless in extreme cases) you are in control of whether you need it or not.
Q: Will they just call me crazy?
A: No. The point quite literally is that you aren’t crazy, and that you can get help with whatever you’re going through.
Q: What if I don’t think traditional methods are for me?
A: You can speak to a professional about this, there are other types of therapy available: music therapy, art therapy, & many more.
Q: Should I pre-diagnose myself?
A: No. You may be going through a period of depression/anxiety/paranoia that will pass. It’s better to have a professional explain it to you, and then you can work together to find a coping mechanism or if needed some form of treatment.
Q: Can anyone have therapy, even if they have no existing mental health concerns?
A: Yes. Therapy is for everyone.