By Hannah Aslin – MAC
Okay, people, it’s time we start to change the narrative around mental health and going to counseling. Why is it that everyone takes great pride in taking steps to improve their physical health, but when it comes to mental health and improving our mental and emotional well-being, it seems like an absolute chore, a waste of time, or something to be ashamed of? WAKE UP AND SMELL THE ROSES, FRIENDS…mental. health. matters. Let’s start to change our view ongoing to counseling from “something must be wrong with me/you/her/him/them” to “counseling is cool/amazing/helpful/beneficial/normal”. If you’re wondering what in the world would make counseling “cool”, don’t worry because I have the inside scoop (the tea, if you will).
Counseling and cool aren’t exactly synonyms in everyone’s mind, so it may seem like an impossible feat to convince you otherwise, but I love a good challenge and will try my best to show you all the things that make counseling (and those who go to counseling) so, so cool.
First, when and where else in your life are you fully free to be yourself and speak your mind without bias or judgment? Can’t think of any examples? Me either. Counseling is a completely safe space where you are not only allowed, but wholeheartedly encouraged, to be honest, open, and authentic without any need for lingering fears of being viewed as bad or weird or wrong. Speak your mind and reveal your truth and your counselor will stand with you every step of the way (kind of like your own personal hype-person).
Second, counseling offers you resources and the space to do a deep exploration of yourself and the people in your life. Through this exploration, you learn a lot and form deep and meaningful connections with not only yourself but with others around you. Let’s face it, we as humans all yearn for connection, and the fact that counseling can provide a way to make those connections, I would say, is pretty dang cool. Third, seeing as everyone faces obstacles or problems in their lives, counseling gives people the chance to overcome those obstacles or resolve those problems through their own growth and personal reflection. When a person is willing to make difficult changes in their lives and face their problems head-on, they (with the support of their counselor) can experience exponential personal growth…how cool is that?
Finally, what makes counseling so cool is that it provides the opportunity and space to show up for yourself and those around you. Simply showing up and improving yourself in whatever way you see fit can create a ripple effect and improve the lives of those around you as well. One might say you are changing the world, which is beyond cool if you ask me.
Of course, I’m not expecting you to do a complete 180 on your view of counseling, but just take a moment to appreciate the similarities between bettering your physical health and bettering your mental health. Ultimately, you are growing into who you want to be, and one form of health isn’t as beneficial or impactful when the other is avoided.
How can we end the stigma of mental health? Let’s start by learning to accept what it takes to show up and improve your mental and emotional well-being with society’s messages of weakness or being “less than”. It is not an easy feat and, to me, DOES NOT imply weakness or less worth. In my opinion, it shows strength, courage, and relentless motivation. That, to me, is the definition of cool.