The world as we have known it has been turned upside-down in the past few years. We have experienced lockdowns, various government and private medical mandates, loss of jobs, and many people are tired, sick, and fearful, not knowing what to expect next. Loved ones have gotten gravely ill, but recovered, and many have, sadly, passed away perhaps before their time.
The field of psychology, or mental health to say it another way, has been around for thousands of years, with many significant advances having been made in the last 150 or so years. So, there is no reason to lose hope, as there are many benefits of mental health counseling to be realized. And you can reap these benefits by seeing a mental health counselor or by practicing self-care tips for mental health, or even better – doing both!
What are 8 Benefits of Mental Health Counseling?
While there are many more benefits of counseling for mental health that the 8 being highlighted here, these are some of the most basic ones, and thereby, worth mentioning.
Montare Behavioral Health lists these 8 benefits as follows:
- Improved communication and interpersonal skills.
- Improved self-acceptance and self-esteem.
- Capability to change self-defeating behaviors and habits.
- More suitable expression and management of emotions.
- Relief from depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions.
- Greater confidence and decision-making skills.
- Ability to manage stress more effectively.
- Improved abilities for problem-solving and conflict resolution.
Whether you have concerns for yourself, your close friends, or family members, it is important to understand why mental health is so important and create mental health awareness in yourself as well as those in your community.
Think about your mental health as a journey of self-education, which can help bring self-awareness. You not only learn more about yourself and how you relate to others and handle difficult situations, you are also learning new skills to aid in the process of overcoming. Understanding what’s going on with your own mental health, like feeling depressed or having a high level of anxiety, you also become aware that you are not alone. Many others feel the same way. And while that’s not a quick fix, it can help ease your sense of isolation.
In short, it has been scientifically shown that certain mental health interventions can increase your happiness as well as decreasing your sense of depression.
Why You Should See a Counselor.
Once you have established trust with a professional counselor, this affords you the opportunity to speak freely about how you’ve been feeling, and also ask what you can do about it. Many issues interfere with daily life functioning, so it’s important to learn the needed skills to handle just about any difficult issue that comes your way.
In fact, children need – more than ever – to see counselors and can benefit from mental health counseling even while at school. That is why there are school counselors, available during the school day, and employed usually by the school districts. Some schools even have a mental health counseling program, which is either done in-house, or in conjunction with other mental health care counselors from the community, often on school property and on school time. Children frequently need help managing their behavior, keeping up with grades, and even planning for the future. In-school counselors also are able to work with administrators, teachers, and parents, to create an environment more conducive to improving the experience kids make at school. And if, for example, parents are reluctant to make positive changes, the kids still have great role models and support from other adults.
Think about the pressure our kids are under these days. Kids are expected to get good grades, not get into fights with their peers, be involved in extracurricular activities, and in general, not get into trouble. As if that pressure were not enough, add in the problems America is having with drugs, many of which play out at school, and kids face challenges due to the ever evolving/changing world of technology. Many schools are not even teaching kids handwriting anymore!
The world has been facing unprecedented health-related challenges, as well, as these past few years dealing with the “pandemic” and the shutdowns, mandates, remote education, and more. Remember, there are different styles of learning, and some simply learn better in person! Having to do academic work from home has been an uphill battle for many of our kids. For that matter, working from home has been an uphill battle for many adults, too!
Even though many kids get involved with illegal drugs, adult use has also skyrocketed, especially in the last few years during this pandemic. Over 165 million people in America have used illegal drugs or misused legally prescribed drugs in the last month. This is crazy! For those with actual substance use disorders, after the initial step of getting safely off all drugs, it is critical to engage in counseling and other services, or relapse may be imminent.
There may be other reasons to seek out help. Perhaps you or someone you know are living with a difficult, chronic health condition. This can produce mental health symptoms, like anxiety and fear and depression. Or maybe you’ve lost a loved one. Getting some mental health assistance can guide you through surviving and coping with this very difficult life transition.
There is unfortunately still stigma concerning getting counseling, but that issue aside, think of seeking counseling as something like health maintenance. Do you get dental checkups or wellness exams with your doctor? Meeting with a counselor can help improve your mental health, but it can also assist in keeping your mental health in good working order. Think of it as a key element in your overall health.
If you have intrusive, uncontrollable thoughts, it is probably wise to seek out a mental health counselor. If you have any compulsive behaviors, like you gamble or shop too much and are finding it difficult to control, that is a good time to look for help. Some people have nightmares and insomnia, some have flashbacks to traumatic times. Was somebody in combat? Did somebody have a car accident which involved loss of life? It’s time for professional help. Perhaps you are a victim of sexual abuse or domestic violence or have problems with drugs and alcohol…if you seek out mental health counseling, you will be able to get help faster and more effectively.
If you find yourself in crisis mode, and you are thinking about harming yourself or attempting suicide, please tell someone right away or even dial 911. There are also many suicide and crisis hotlines. Always err on the side of caution and act when you are thinking about hurting yourself; also, if you know someone in this condition, reach out and get help for them. Some of the warning signs of someone contemplating suicide are talking about it, feeling empty and/or hopeless, feeling that they have no reason to live, and having a sense of being trapped without any good solutions. Some people feel overwhelming and unbearable emotional and/or physical pain. If someone talks about being a burden to others, take action. When you see someone withdrawing from friends and family, and perhaps putting their affairs in order, like making out a will, it’s time to intervene.
How Mental Health Counseling Works.
Healthy Place says that counseling “is a formal, purposeful partnership between a client and a mental health professional.” There is a plethora of scientific studies in the literature that demonstrate what techniques actually work best for certain individuals. For example, if you’re dealing with anxiety, panic attacks, bipolar disorder, or depression, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy might be a good fit for you.
If you have a substance use problem, then often a dual-diagnosis treatment agency will be equipped to help you in all ways. Many have a department for detoxification from the drugs, often with doctors and nurses on staff to assist you medically. Once that is safely accomplished, you are usually paired with a counselor for individual sessions. Often you are required to attend 12 step groups, and also to participate in group counseling, and group education. If you’re staying in-house for treatment, there is often a gymnasium for exercise, and many places have music and art therapy available as well.
There are psychiatrists, who can prescribe medication, and many also practice psychotherapy. There are psychologists who practice psychotherapy, but do not prescribe medication. Other professionals like licensed professional counselors or licensed social workers offer help with coping with your emotions, and social workers are typically very well connected within communities for assistance in procuring other types of services, like getting free food, clothing, help around the house, etc.