Ontario Psychotherapist, Elizabeth Scarlett, Clarifies Myths About the Stigma Around Mental Health Counselling Inspired by Bell Canada's "Let's Talk" Campaign

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Elizabeth Scarlett, a psychotherapist practicing in Toronto, Ontario, explores the stigma of mental health as discussed in Bell Canada's "Let's Talk" Campaign. Myths and facts about what to expect from counselling are explored, as well as how counselling can be beneficial to everyone.

All people go through periods where they could benefit from counselling in order to explore ways to improve their mental health.

Bell Canada’s "Let’s Talk" Campaign entered its 4th year this February. One of the primary goals of the "Let’s Talk" campaign is reducing stigma about mental illness. It makes sense to take it a step further and look at the stigma around mental health as a whole and what prevents people from seeking support.

Typically, one is said to have a mental illness if they are given a diagnosis in the DSM 5. Examples of this include, but are not limited to: Social Anxiety Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Mental health is a broader term that impacts everyone, much like physical health. It is a more general label to describe one’s well-being. All people go through periods where they could benefit from counselling in order to explore ways to improve their mental health.

While counselling has become more mainstream, many people still feel intimidated by the idea of seeing a therapist. It is common for people to make an initial phone contact with a therapist and then not follow through. Some people are prone to minimize their concerns: “Things aren’t that bad. I just need to get it together on my own.” Others amplify what they’re going through: “I can’t share what’s in my head with a stranger, because it’s too bizarre”. Either method can prevent a person from seeking help.

Here are common myths and facts about mental health counselling:

1)    Myth: “That shrink will make me go three times a week!”

        Fact: Most therapists work with their clients to determine the frequency of appointments (typically every week or two).

2)    Myth: “I can’t afford counselling”

        Fact: Many insurance companies have plans that cover some amount of therapy, and many therapists are willing to make more affordable rates if their clients do not have insurance coverage.

3)    Myth: “If others find out, they’ll think I’m nuts.”

        Fact: It is up to the person in therapy to decide if they tell others. Also, most people are glad to hear that their loved ones are making efforts for improved mental health.

4)    Myth: “They will make me lay on a couch and judge me.”

        Fact: Most therapists are working from a place of genuine compassion and view their clients as equals. Counselling styles and approaches differ between clinicians. If a therapist does not feel like a good match, try another one.

5)    Myth: “Counselling can’t help me.”

        Fact: Often just the act of scheduling a counselling appointment can be beneficial. A therapist is an objective “outsider” that can suggest strategies for self improvement or just be a “sounding board”.

The decision to seek therapy is not usually an easy one, but many people find that starting is the hardest part. Finding greater acceptance about the human need for self improvement is the first step to reducing the stigma of mental health.

Elizabeth Scarlett is a psychotherapist who works at Sounding Board Counselling Services in Ontario.

Sounding Board Counselling Services is a private practice that provides individual and couples counselling at affordable rates in the Hamilton and Toronto area. Sounding Board therapists use humanistic and cognitive behavioral approaches and address such areas as low self esteem, depression, anxiety, communication skills and anger management. Visit Sounding Board Counselling Services online at: http://www.soundingboardonline.com

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