These are difficult times for us all. Mental health disorders are on the rise countrywide given the COVID-19 pandemic and current political climate. The silver lining may be that the stigma of mental illness is decreasing and more people are seeking help than ever before. It is possible to come out of this pandemic healthier than you started it, and therapy can be the first step of that journey.
1. It can be awkward.
Anxiety disorders affect 18% of the US population every year, so it’s natural to dread talking about your intimate problems with someone new. Therapists are aware of that discomfort and self-consciousness and well trained to help you open up.
2. You are brave.
Admitting that you need to go to therapy and then actually following through is difficult. Less than half the population living with a mental health challenge actually follow through with treatment. Be proud of yourself for taking this step.
3. Be honest with your therapist.
It can be challenging to talk about things you’re struggling with. Chances are, you won’t be telling your therapist the wildest thing they’ve ever heard. You must be honest about your struggles to access proper care.
4. Keep an open mind.
Some of the meditations and mantras you learn in therapy seem silly, especially when your therapist is guiding you through them. But these simple exercises can help when you’re alone and struggling with day-to-day life.
5. Be honest with yourself.
Your first therapist may not be the right fit for you and that’s okay. So many people have a bad first experience and give up hope. There are a plethora of different types of therapists and treatments and sometimes you must try a few different options before you find what’s best for you.
Bridget McNally is the community outreach coordinator at Mental Health Advocates of WNY. She is a trained information & referral specialist and coordinates the adult support groups at the agency.