As it’s World Mental Health Day, we thought it’d be good to write a post about the benefits you can get from talking about your difficulties. A “problem shared” really can be “a problem halved” and if you’re finding it difficult to talk to people around you then counselling can be really helpful.
What stops people talking about their mental health?
The reasons for people not talking about their mental health can be many and varied. It can depend upon the person and the difficulties they’re experiencing. Here are some examples:
Society tends to have different expectations on males and females when it comes to talking about mental health. If you’re a woman, it’s almost a given that you’ll gather with other women to discuss your problems and seek mutual support. Most women have no problem doing this as it’s seen as something that “women do”.
On the other hand, if you’re male you may find it more difficult to talk due to societal expectations that you “should” be strong and not discuss your emotions. Whilst views are starting to shift there’s still a long way to go, which is highlighted in the fact that suicide rates tend to be higher in men.
The presenting problem
You may have been through experiences which have impacted your mental health that you’re worried about sharing. One such example might be going through childhood sexual abuse. This can leave people with many mixed feelings such as shame and guilt, which may prevent them from seeking support from others.
You may blame yourself for your presenting problem, no matter what that is, and this can leave you feeling as though you don’t have the right to ask for help.
Whatever the problem and the reasons for not wanting to talk about it, this may leave you feeling extremely isolated.
Feeling like a ‘fraud’
You may believe that you’re a “fraud” and that your difficulties are not serious enough to deserve support. This is something we often hear our own clients say. Some of our clients worry that we’ll think they don’t really need to come for counselling because their problems don’t warrant it.
The fact that you’ve got in touch with a Counsellor to seek support for the problem means that, for you, it’s important to bring it to counselling and that’s a perfectly valid reason from our perspective.
As much as there’s more awareness around mental health these days, there’s a still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health issues.
You may be wary of sharing information with your employers for fear that you’ll face discrimination. Family and friends might not quite understand your difficulties so you may rather keep quiet than risk not being understood.
As you may well have heard before, people often talk about physical health problems being easier to understand as they can be seen. However, mental health problems can be hard to comprehend if the people around you haven’t experienced them.
How does talking about mental health help?
The more we talk about mental health the more we help to normalise it. EVERYBODY has ‘mental health’ and it doesn’t fall under “good” or “bad”; it’s on a spectrum.
The old cliche of “a problem shared is a problem halved” is very true. Often, just being able to talk to someone about your problems without fear of judgment can be a hugely powerful experience.
Support from family and/or friends can be beneficial, but sometimes you may not feel comfortable talking to them. This could be because your difficulties involve family and/or friends, or you might worry that they won’t understand.
Having someone impartial to listen can make such a difference and this is where counselling comes in.
Counselling and mental health
The Counsellor-Client relationship is really unique. It’s very rare that one person talks about their difficulties while the other listens without responding with such things as “Oh, that happened to me too!” and re-focusing the conversation onto themselves.
Counsellors are not there to judge; they offer an acceptance of you and your situation. Having someone to listen in this way can be very powerful, and the safe space of the counselling room can be a welcome relief when the outside world doesn’t appear to understand you.
Whilst Counsellors cannot change your situation, they can help you explore how you’d like your situation to be different. Remember that change is possible, but you have to make the change; your Counsellor cannot make changes for you and neither can other people.
Counselling can only really be effective if you’re willing to accept responsibility for the changes that you want to happen. If you’re ready to do this, then great work can take place.
How counselling can help with anxiety
Like other mental health difficulties, it’s often hard to know where to start with tackling anxiety. Seeing a Counsellor can help get clarity over the problems you want to address, as well as the ways in which your Counsellor can support you with tackling those difficulties.
Whilst there are things you can do yourself to try and tackle your anxiety, sometimes you might want some additional support in order to know where to start and which direction to take.
If you’re seeking support and are thinking about accessing counselling then please do contact us.
Also, try to keep talking about mental health to help reduce the stigma; it can be done if we all work together 🙂