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Erase the Misconceptions Surrounding Mental Health Professionals and Seeking Help

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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 associate with attending therapy, along with tackling some of the common misconceptions surrounding it.

Morton, Kati. “What Happens during a First Therapy Appointment?” YouTube, YouTube, 3 Aug. 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FiVVAOXiEQ

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


Professional Description

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. “What Do Psychiatrists Actually Do? Everything Patients Need to Know.” YouTube, YouTube, 29 Apr. 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=apf5G22nSBE

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COMMENTS: 10
  1. April 25, 2019 by Heather .Hersey

    Hi Minea, I love that you let your future career path guide your topic. Why do you want to pursue work in this field?

    • April 27, 2019 by Minea.Hill

      Ever since I was young I knew I was interested in psychology and medicine. Talking to a family friend who was in the field confirmed my desire to work within it somehow.

  2. April 25, 2019 by Logan

    This topic is really interesting! I love how you got down to basics and included what to expect in a therapy session. What are some ways we can help reverse the stigma around mental health professionals?

    • April 28, 2019 by Minea.Hill

      I believe the most important part is educating the masses. If everyone is able to distinguish between what they see in the media and what actually happens in real life, then this would ultimately lead to reduced stigma.

  3. April 26, 2019 by Alana.Johannson

    I love the information in your project broke a lot of my misunderstandings!

  4. April 26, 2019 by Alex.Lepa

    Hi Minea,
    Thank you for your interesting project. As someone who has participated in therapy for more than ten years, how do you suggest I begin sharing my experiences? Thanks.
    Alex

    • April 28, 2019 by Minea.Hill

      I think speaking to those who will listen and those who do not understand is an effective way to share your experience. I do not think it is necessary to use specificity in the sense of personal details, however sharing as much as you can about the experience, in my opinion, would be super helpful.

  5. April 26, 2019 by Addie Anderson

    I like how your project has depth considering your interest in the field. I’ve definitely thought about pursuing this path too.

  6. April 27, 2019 by Rachel.Dulski

    Minea, great work on your project I think you addressed a very relevant and important problem. Mental health is a big issue and people understand that support is offered but there is always that boundary of fear and uncertainty that prevents people from getting support. I don’t think many people understand how big of an issue this is and how helpful it would be to make sure the process to get support is more open and comforting.

  7. April 27, 2019 by Lesley Denise Hill-lloyd

    Minea, I am so proud of the work you have done on the topic of Mental health. It is a subject that has been taboo in the past and that stigma needs removing as it affects each and everyone of us a some point in our lives, I know you will go on to do great things and help change many lives with your dedication and compassion.

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