We’ve been living in the COVID-19 pandemic for over two years now, and it has brought with it—among other things—a greater awareness of mental health. More people than ever are experiencing increased rates of depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. While the pandemic’s toll is burdensome, to say the least, it is extremely validating to see that mental health is being taken more seriously.
Everyone’s treatment for mental health issues looks different, but for many of us, it involves talk therapy. It looks different for everyone, but therapy can help anyone. You don’t need a mental illness to see a therapist; you don’t even need to be in a crisis to see a therapist.
Here are reasons everyone should consider therapy:
1. Therapy helps you deal with everyday life.
While it’s true that not everyone has a mental illness, it’s also true that everyone struggles with their mental health—just like everyone struggles with their physical health. Learning coping strategies and how to better handle situations are crucial skills to learn, and therapy teaches you just that. For many people, it helps to speak to an objective person, like a therapist, as opposed to speaking to friends or family members. And therapists have backgrounds in psychology, sociology, and similar fields, so they have expertise in the human mind that we could all benefit from.
2. Therapy teaches you about yourself.
Therapy is a great way to learn who you are as a person. When you identify your thinking patterns and common emotions, when you identify how you interact with the world, you have a better understanding of yourself. A lot of what I’ve learned about myself I’ve learned from therapy. This is not to say that you can’t learn these skills outside of therapy, but therapy can do this for you, too!
3. Therapy can prevent a mental health crisis.
Getting therapy before you’re in a mental health crisis—such as a major depressive episode or an actively suicidal state—can be a lifesaver. Oftentimes, our problems get worse when we leave them unaddressed. And the longer we leave problems alone, the more time they have to build up, which makes things worse. If I had gone to therapy as soon as I noticed things were off, I could have saved myself a lot of struggling and pain. At the very least, I would have had the support I needed earlier on, which is crucial to the recovery process.
4. Therapy destigmatizes mental health.
While there’s been an uptick in people discussing mental health publicly there’s still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health in general. The media rarely portrays mental illness, and when it does, it’s often riddled with stereotypes: People with mental disorders are perceived as dangerous, weak, and downplaying or even lying about their illness. Taking the first step to acknowledge that you need help is already a great way to break the stigma around mental health. And when you find the right fit for therapy, you’ll learn that mental health isn’t something to be scared of or feel shameful about. It’s a health issue, like any other health issue you may experience, and sometimes you need help in treating the issue. There’s nothing wrong with that. Realizing you need help is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
5. Therapy validates your feelings.
Ideally, everyone would have people in their lives who support them, not just medical professionals, but also their support system. Sadly, this isn’t the case for everyone. Some people grew up in communities where mental health was taboo, and they may be living with people now who feel the same way. This sort of “hush-hush” attitude toward mental health can be very isolating, which only worsens mental health conditions. A good therapist won’t do this. They will help you work through your thoughts, but they will also acknowledge and validate your feelings. Therapists don’t treat mental health issues like personal failures—they treat them as health issues. They work with you to understand your feelings and validate what you’re going through.
6. Therapy empowers you.
Therapy gives you the tools needed to deal with the stress, trauma, and pain life throws at you. When you go to therapy, you find things that used to overwhelm you now overwhelm you less. Therapy gives you skills to not only practice in therapy but also in your day-to-day life. Therapy doesn’t “fix” you; instead, it gives you the skills you need to get through life’s worse hardships. Knowing that you are an active participant in your therapy treatment can be daunting, but it can also be liberating. The moment you made the appointment and first spoke with your therapist, the moment you committed to helping yourself. You owe your success to both yourself and your therapist.
There are so many benefits to going to therapy beyond the points I listed above. Mental health is physical health, which means you need to maintain it, and it helps to see professionals from time to time. If you don’t know where to start, check out Psychology Today’s comprehensive therapist search. You can filter based on location, issue, therapy type, in-person vs. teletherapy, and more.