Removing the stigma on therapy


Many students struggle with their mental health or personal difficulties, but have reservations about going to therapy. (Photo illustration by Irene Jacobs)

Irene Jacobs

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, but aside from the occasional social media post telling you that you’re worth it, the whole movement may fall under the radar. There is so little to be seen of people encouraged to seek out help — real, tangible help, not just a grocery list of suicide hotline numbers.

However, for those who are struggling and see said aforementioned posts, the whole concept of betterment can feel hollow. Therapy itself has become sort of a joke, with many memes hinting that it does little for you besides empty your pockets and leave you with placating and half-hearted advice.

Perhaps you want things to get better, or maybe you’ve just resigned yourself to feeling this way, letting a nihilistic mood color your attitude toward life. Either way, if you have access to and are able to obtain therapy, allow me to state this as clearly as possible: Go.

I have always struggled with my mental health — knowing therapy clinics as well as my own school — from a very young age, but it wasn’t until high school when I realized that I needed some help.

In one of the worst periods of my life, I dialed 911 in the dead of night and begged an operator to talk me down from suicide. This combined with many other warning signs was enough indication for my loved ones to recognize that something was very wrong, and found me a psychiatrist.

Many things can stand in the way of seeking out a therapist — maybe you just don’t know where to start. A good first step is to talk to your doctor; they can rule out possible physical health issues and advise you to a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist in your area.

If you’d like something relatively more familiar, the Health Center on campus also offers free and confidential therapy, and can recommend a variety of resources.

Another reason could be you’re too afraid, which is understandable. Therapy was my last chance, and if it didn’t work for me, life would be even more hopeless than it already was (spoiler alert: it did work).

If you need to, bring someone along with you who can offer moral support, who will encourage you to go through with it because they know the end result will be worth the initial fear — even if you don’t.

Or maybe you think you can fix the problem yourself. Many people don’t see the point in therapy, believing they can easily go to talk with a friend or a parent. However, the benefit of therapy is that you are visiting a professional who is absent of bias and gives a neutral perspective on your issues, and is trained to help you combat them.

Therapy is not just someone with a notepad asking you to lay down on a couch and talk about your feelings. When done right, therapy can do a variety of things, including rearrange your thought pattern to a more beneficial one, pulling you out of self-deprecation and toxic habits.

Before therapy I was in a deep depression, constantly chewed by anxiety and other cognitive distortions. Now I am happier than I ever believed I could be again, and because of what I learned in therapy I am able to properly deal with my bad thoughts when they come creeping back up.

At the end of the day, everyone can benefit from therapy even if you believe yourself to be doing well. If you have the resources, I highly encourage you go — the results may surprise you, and at best transform you for the better.

To schedule a free appointment with WellSpace, students can call or text (916) 340-8148. Students can also visit the Health Center to receive information or recommendations for other mental health resources in the Sacramento area.