World Mental Health Day is tomorrow and I’m going to use the next few minutes to try to give an elevator pitch for the value of counselling and therapy.
So, first, some stats. According to the American Psychological Association, therapy has an average effectiveness of 75%. Additionally, the International Institute of Mental Health showed that roughly 80% of people who receive therapy experience symptom relief.
Yet despite this, there is still stigma surrounding seeking therapy, especially amongst men and boys. This is particularly concerning given suicide is the leading cause of death in young men but there are societal pressures and a lot of young men are worried that seeking help makes them seem weak. And many aren’t aware how common therapy is.
I received counselling for a period of time in my life and I am aware that many of my mates have as well; I am sure that even some of our teachers will have sought support for mental health concerns in the past. I should add that you don’t need to feel suicidal to benefit from counselling. Sometimes as little as a single session can help you to sort out your thoughts when things seem overwhelming. My personal experience of counselling was great and it helped give me a framework to start to feel better.
However, I’m not naïve. Despite my best attempts to sell therapy I’m well aware that it is not everyone’s cup of tea. Different things work for different people. So what other alternatives are there? Some people find relief from stress and anxiety through sport, religion, meditation or undertaking some kinds of creative activities – all of which are proven to be effective in dealing with mental health issues. But one of the most effective solutions to helping reduce mental health issues is peer support. We need to support each other.
So if you are not currently experiencing mental health issues and you want to help those in your social circles who may be, check in with your friends. Be supportive and judgement-free. And work to remove the taboo around reaching out by being a vocal advocate for getting help and stop using language like man up that could perpetuate toxic masculinity. And if you are currently struggling: you are not alone; there is help available. Talk to your friends and family. We also have our school counsellors down in the corridor by the Auditorium and the G corridor. They will treat your concerns confidentially which is important if you don’t feel able to talk to your friends or family about how you are feeling. There are charities such as Samaritans which offer judgement-free support and Young Minds who have lots of resources on their website which you might find helpful.
So, I implore everyone here. Don’t be naïve to the dangers of suffering in silence and tell someone if you need help with your mental health.