Why counselling is for everyone and not just for people suffering
Mark Mapoles, Contributor
Illustration by Annika McFarlane
The other day I heard a friend say, “I don’t have any mental health issues like depression or anxiety so why would I need to see a counsellor?”. I had forgotten that the stigma around counselling is that only those who are suffering in life should see a counsellor, when really, it’s for anyone that wants help changing their life. According to Psychology Today, “Most people who initiate counseling do not have a serious mental illness. They have serious life challenges or are going through difficult life-cycle transitions that may be taxing their current ability to cope.” Yet most people assume that counselling is only there for people to talk about their mental health issues. The only way we can change the stigma around counselling is by being more open and understanding that anyone can benefit from talking to someone about their life challenges.
Before I started seeing a counsellor, I remember I had thoughts about how only those who are weak needed to go to counselling. Even though my life was in a very negative place, I didn’t want help because I thought people would see me as being too weak to handle life. Now I view people who see a counsellor as being strong. They are trying to make changes in their lives and know that they could use some help in doing so – there is nothing weak about that. It actually takes a lot of courage to talk to a stranger about needing help – whether it’s health issues, academic issues, relationship issues, etc. No matter how successful or happy you are in life, you can benefit from talking with a professional and hearing their insights. It is definitely an uncomfortable experience opening up to a stranger, and it might take time before seeing the changes that you want. However, it is worth the awkward conversations that will happen. And who knows, one day you might look back and see how important making the decision to talk to a counsellor was.
The only real downside of counselling is that it is expensive, but as a student at Capilano University, it’s free to see a counsellor. There really isn’t anything to lose by seeing a counsellor for the first time and seeing if you can learn something new about yourself, but there is a lot that you can gain. School is a stressful time and it’s okay to reach out for help from a counsellor if you feel as though you aren’t coping on your own. Or even if you are succeeding in life and just want to check in and see how you can prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed – the counsellors at CapU are there to help us.
The only way to eliminate the stigma around counselling is to talk about it. Share this article with friends and peers and see what their thoughts are. If you’re comfortable, share your own experience in counselling with people you trust so that others might not feel as scared to reach out for help from a counsellor. By talking about the topic more, counselling can become normalized, and if that can help people seek help from counsellors – that would be awesome.