I have written about this a lot so it might not be new to many of you but I feel that we need to bring mental health out of the closet. People need to know that it is normal to feel bad and even more so, it is definitely okay to seek help. I grew up in a generation (I am a boomer) where getting “therapy” was not that common, at least when we spoke about it amongst our friends.
That seems to be shifting a bit now though. Millennials are more likely to recognize that they are in psychological pain and go for help. But it still is not easy. There are many barriers to seeking help which is why I am delighted that some big-name celebrities have recently come out about their psychological struggles.
Kevin Love of basketball fame; a marquis player with the Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA recently told the world that during halftime of a game, he had a panic attack. As a result, he began to re-examine his attitudes in which he had always thought that mental health was someone else’s problem. In this vein, he mentioned that he felt, as do countless others, that talking about your problems was not “being a man”. In fact though, this is the bravest a man can be; to get vulnerable and speak openly about one’s fears, anxiety, depression or whatever else may be ailing you.
And then there is Mariah Carey who came out about her suffering in silence for years about her bipolar II disorder. "I didn't want to carry around the stigma of a lifelong disease that would define me and potentially end my career," she said. "I was so terrified of losing everything." Ms. Carey said that she had lived in "denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me," and that she had come forward after the burden became too heavy to bear.
Both celebrities have spoken about their seeking help with medication or by openly working through problems that have, for years, been too scary to bring out.
Thanks to all of those who are, as role models, making it okay for people to ask for help.
So, if you are experiencing any difficulties in your life that are making you feel unsettled or are affecting your mental health, don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance. Here are a couple of tips for finding a good counselor.
It’s About the Fit. Similar to shopping for any other goods or services, you want to make sure you trust and feel comfortable with the service provider. And with counseling, this is even more important. Trust is a huge factor. Go with your gut. If you don’t feel comfortable after the first 30 minutes, keep looking.
Make affordability a priority. Most people don’t get help because they think it is too costly to go for counseling. To further complicate things, the rap on insurance is that it is costly and doesn’t cover much. Don’t just assume that this is true. Check out what credentials (social work, psychologist or psychiatrist) accepts, what portion of the total they cover and what the deductible and co-pay are. By the way, any good therapist or practice can and should be able to help you navigate through this maze.
Define your and the therapist’s goals at the outset. Here it is important to be patient. The therapist may need to meet with you a couple of times to get a better sense of you and what the process may be like. That will help to give a better timetable. One thing to remember here though is that counseling is a two-way process. It will take the therapist’s wisdom and experience along with your willingness to do the work. Good therapists though, are patient and warm.
Find a therapist with the right qualities to make the process a success. When I was in school, I learned about something called WEG (Warmth, Empathy and Genuiness). These are the qualities you want in a good therapist. But remember they need to balance that with an ability to nudge or confront you on what they see and think you need to be working on.
Commit to yourself. Self-care is okay. We do it less reluctantly when it comes to our physical health so why not do it for your emotional health. Believe me, you are worth it.
Hopefully this will help arm you to find the help you need. Whatever you do though, if you are not feeling okay psychologically or emotionally, GET HELP. Waiting for it to go away by itself usually doesn’t work. And no one needs to suffer needless pain.
For more information about Bernie Dyme, LCSW, click here.
Originally published May 1, 2018