Taking the First Step a Key To Mental Health

Jaime Edwards, Editor

As I wipe my sweaty palms on my jeans, I process what to say next. Talking about myself is so uncomfortable. The crease between her brows grows almost as fast as the amount of questions she throws my way. My voice trembles and I look down as I talk about things I never wanted to bring to the surface. After fumbling to find the right words, I look up and there she is, my therapist, staring at me with sincere helpful eyes. Yet, I am still afraid.

Therapy is a scary thing for a lot of people, mostly because of the unknown. A therapist can tell you it is a “safe place,” yet you can feel so out of your comfort zone when you first step in the room. at being said, once you get past that initial feeling, it is one of the most helpful and permanent solutions to long-term issues. I know this first-hand.

When I was little, I would attend therapy sessions mainly to play with the toys my therapist had scattered throughout her offce. I never thought therapy would ease my anxious mind. I was embarrassed and felt like one of the only kids in the world needing help. My therapist would dig and dig, and my parents would be confused why I would not talk to her when they were there.

Growing up, I realized how much open- ing up to a third party could clear my mind. Especially as a college student, we are constantly thinking about our future while trying to manage the present. It can pile on even more anxiety to the pre-existing. Finding a way to cope with that stress is crucial to living a healthy life and to getting through college successfully.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), “85 percent of college students reported they had felt overwhelmed by everything they had to do at some point within the last year.”

Of that 85 percent, around 30 percent of those college students reported that stress negatively affected their academic performance, according to ADAA.

Senior Jillian Hummer says being a college student causes her social anxiety, which then affects her attendance in class. This leads to missed assignments and falling behind, which can be a big stressor for her as well.
Hummer believes that therapy is an amazing outlet for any issues, whether big or small.

“Therapy doesn’t have to mean a specific treatment or medication, it can just be a way to express yourself and get things off your chest without feeling judged,” she said.

A negative stigma lingers around the word “therapy” that makes people avoid it. According to the counseling center at a small liberal arts school, Gustavus Adolphus College, the top three excuses people use to avoid going to therapy are,

“Receiving counseling is a sign of weakness.”

“People who go to therapy are crazy, ‘I’m not crazy!’”

“I wouldn’t even know what to talk about.”

Carly Turner, a 22 year-old licensed social worker pursuing her master’s degree in Texas, is currently working with adults with chronic mental illnesses. She said she gets a lot of those responses from adult patients who do not want to be seen as “psycho, weak, or are just simply embarrassed.”

Her thoughts on the negative stigma attached to therapy are that people are not educated well enough on the subject, “from a professional standpoint I try my best to empower those people who are against therapy,” Turner said. “I like to explain to them what its really like and what to expect in hopes of alleviating the unknown.”

Turner also lets patients know that therapy is not just for the “worst of the worst,” as people like to believe, but instead it is individualized for each specific person.

In the end, it is something she believes “everyone can benefit from.”

According to GAC Counseling, most adults that attend therapy are just simply feeling unhappy. It is not always as complex as we make it out to be.

If you decide to take action, therapy can have long-term bene ts. According to the American Psychological Association, “cli- ents o en report the bene ts of treatment not only endure, but continue to improve
following therapy completion.”

According to Turner, therapy’s biggest takeaway is “empowering clients to know that they have all of the resources and tools to handle life’s crazy curveballs within themselves,” she says. “Therapy teaches you how to apply those tools in everyday life.”

So whether you are unhappy with your well-being, a class that you just cannot handle, a family member who is stressing you out, or just want to better improve your mental health, therapy is always an option. When it comes to not knowing what to talk about, therapy can consist of some silence. The words will flow if need be.

For students seeking help, SNC has a counselor on campus. Kelly Root is in the Patterson Hall, room 212, from noon-2 p.m. every Wednesday. If you feel more comfortable with a therapist outside of campus you can enter your zip code into the psychologytoday.com website and it will generate a list of therapists in the local area. Each person has a mini bio and background with their specialty.

Multiple mental healthcare providers are available in Incline Village, as well as the Tahoe City and Truckee areas.

Pay attention to your inner voice on your first visit. If the therapist does not suit you, do not hesitate to switch until you find someone you are happy with. Booking one session does not mean you are stuck with that person.