There are many misconceptions surrounding mental health professionals by students and youth alike. I was surprised to discover, when I sat down with my peers, that most do not even have a foundational knowledge of what these health professionals do, other than what my peers see in the media, mostly from television and movies. As I plan on pursuing a career in this field, I felt it necessary to spread the word about the important role that mental health professionals have and tackle some of the misconceptions associated with them. Many people question why I would like to enter this field of study because they do not understand what therapy truly is. They have an image of an individual laid across a coach venting in their mind and do not understand the medical backing or the work associated with it.
Despite the large influences that are seen and the incredible positive impacts that can be had, so few students truly understand what mental health professionals do. Misconceptions swirl around and the stigma surrounding these professionals influence youth decisions to stay away and not reach out for help when it is necessary. Students have a distorted view of what therapy is and what seeking help would look like. They are not aware of the important role that mental health professionals have in the community due to their lack of understanding of what therapy actually is. I have teamed up with the Peer Support club at my school to post sources on the mental health bulletin boards to try and give the student body at my school and understanding of what mental health professionals do, and what therapy sessions look like.
First Hand Accounts
In an interview with Dr. Beverly Adams, she comments frequently on what it’s like to work with students at the university in which she teaches and addresses the lack of understanding that students and youth of all ages and disciplines have. Frequently, individuals act in ignorance or out of fear and so they never question the role of mental health professionals. Dr. Adams believes that a key component in continuing to raise this awareness is to educate on the difference between wellness and illness. Too many students are unaware of what mental health workers do because students do not fully understand that mental illness is actually a brain disorder, and therefore it needs treatment that goes beyond what most people initially think.
A second interview was done with Aamena Kapasi, a certified Canadian counsellor working on her PhD in school and clinical child psychology. She echoed what was previously said, adding that “no one is perfect and everyone has things they can work on, and nothing has to be ‘wrong’ to seek help.” Kapasi enforces the benefits that can be seen from seeking counselling and how individuals who are certified to do these jobs are effective tools.
Sit in a Therapy Session
Kati Morton, who is a licensed therapist that creates youtube videos regarding mental health and wellness, as well as, wrote a book title Are you OK? , created a video of what to expect when attending a therapy session. She also addresses individual nerves that arise and the fear that many
The Actual Role
Mental health professionals serve many roles to an individual suffering from mental health problems. They are a person to confide in as well as a professional who has their patient care and well-being as a priority.
In Arti Patel’s article for the Huffington Post (linked below), Patel takes on the misconception that going to therapy means that an individual is “crazy.” This is a common deterrent that those seeking help. There is a stigma surrounding therapy. We, as a society, have been led to believe that seeking professional help in order to cope with any mental illnesses means that you are crazy. Patel challenges this notion through discussions with Noah Rubinstein, who is the CEO and founder of therapist directory GoodTherapy.org. In the article, Rubinstein is quoted saying “Seeking help is not a sign of weakness and the truth is, we all suffer and getting help doesn’t mean you’re ‘crazy.'” countering the stigma that causes so many to avoid getting the treatment that would benefit them.
Patel, Arti, and Arti Patel. “Therapy Myths: 10 Common Misconceptions About Seeing A Therapist.”HuffPost Canada, HuffPost Canada, 21 Sept. 2012, www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/09/20/10-common-therapy-myths_n_1900370.html