As a mental health therapist for twenty years, nothing frustrates me more than hearing incorrect statements about mental health.
I am going to do some myth-busting.
Myth #1 :: People with mental health issues are crazy
Most of us have heard this one. We all have mental health, just like we all have physical health. Our mental health is affected by genetics, stress, trauma, environmental issues, substance use, relationship stress, etc. Our mental health needs to be attended to just like we attend to our physical health. Mental health issues are on a spectrum from mild to moderate to severe.
Myth #2 :: People who threaten suicide are attention-seeking
Suicide ideation is a very real symptom of depression. There are times when people can fight the urges off and there are other times when the urges take over. As family members and friends, we cannot control our loved ones’ decisions and this is so incredibly painful. The point here is that it needs to be treated and should not be thought of as attention-seeking behavior.
Myth #3 :: Therapy makes us worse
If you have a knee injury and go to physical therapy, is the pain worse immediately? Yes, it might be initially. This is because you are going through the healing process. Mental health therapy is similar. We have to work through the emotional pain to get to the healing. There is also the misconception that if we acknowledge an issue, we will worsen it. In reality, all we are doing is bringing something to light that is already happening within us. Not acknowledging it is ignoring it or suppressing it.
Myth #4 :: People will judge us if we go to therapy or bring our children to therapy
I am a therapist, and I have done years of my own therapy. I have also done relationship therapy, and that experience was life-changing. I am now bringing my children to therapy. Why? Because they deserve to have their own space to process life’s stuff. Life is hard. Life is complex. It feels good to have someone focused completely on you for an hour. I think my children deserve that. I also want them to have the language to talk about their emotional health. Will therapy make everything better? Of course not. Life will still happen. Grief will still happen. Trauma may still happen. As these things are happening, I want my kids to have a place to process, language to describe their feelings and skills to regulate. I believe the same is true for us as adults.