Societal Stigma and Counselling

Considering we are in the year 2020 and mental health has gotten a fair share of representation in modern day media, there is still an overwhelming amount of societal stigma against counselling. Next time you walk into counselling on the Gold Coast, just consider how many people are still afraid to. 

Celebrities across the world are choosing mental health issues close to their hearts to speak about. Whether this is Kendall Jenner about anxiety, Adele about depression, Lena Dunham about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Carrie Fisher about depression, or Dwayne Johnson with depression. Somehow, even with movies and TV increasingly portraying a whole range of mental health issues such as Bipolar Disease in Spinner, Depression in 13 Reasons Why and Bojack Horseman, or Borderline Personality Disorder in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, many people are still afraid to get help.

Statistically, men are the primary suffers from keeping mental health problems secret. Suicide in Australia is unfortunately the top ranked external cause of death for men. This still has a lot to do with the social stigmas of boys not being allowed to cry. Men grow up knowing to keep their emotions in, and to suffer from their problems in silence. While there are organizations such as Beyond Blue and Men’s Line which focus on helping men, a man still needs to take that first step to ask for help.

So, what can people do to help remove the stigma associated with getting help from a counsellor or psychologist?

  1. Normalise It

    If you yourself see a psychologist, or have seen one in the past, do not be afraid to share your experiences. Some people decide to make appointments to tackle difficulties they are struggling with, while others like weekly check ins with a neutral party. The more people who talk about making appointments and going to talk to a licensed counsellor, the more people will hear it and associate it with something normal. 

  2. Be Self Aware

    Whether you want to or not, there are societal stigmas that every person perpetuates in their daily life. That is why being self-aware and considering whether your thoughts or words are coming from a place of acceptance, openness, and kindness, or from an unknown place. The unknown place can frequently be the expectations and rules that have been instilled on you from childhood and provide you with opinions without giving you a real why. Why should a man not be able to cry? Why is taking a sick day for mental health not okay? Why should people say they are “ok” anytime they are asked? 

  3. Ask the Question

    R U OK? If you have a loved one in your life, or maybe someone you do not know as well, but you notice them acting different. Take the first step. Ask them if they are ok? Be there for the other person. Offer company, a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, or someone to share a meal with. We are all human and life brings all forms of challenges that are made that much easier, if we feel like we are not alone. 

The key about alleviating societal stigma, is to change the majority’s opinion on it. The best way to start this is to lead by example. If you are suffering from grief, anxiety, or depression, take your life into your own hands and book yourself an appointment with psychologist on the Gold Coast.