Sadly, the stigma surrounding mental health has been prevalent throughout history. For hundreds of years, women and men with treatable conditions suffered in silence. Because information was so limited at the time, many people didn’t even know what was wrong with them.
People with mental health problems had limited rights and were labeled in harsh terms. They were considered to be incurable, so there was little incentive for doctors to treat them. Worse, many so-called “treatments” were cruel, unscientific, and inhumane. While this seems unfathomable to many of us today, it was true as recently as the 1950s.
Fortunately, there has been a monumental change in public opinion of mental health problems. Thanks to scientific developments, increased awareness, better treatments, and greater communication, the stigma is dissipating. Unfortunately, there are still millions of individuals who are afraid to seek help due to shame or worry about what others will think. Others simply don’t know where to find help or who to ask.
That is why it is so important to celebrate National Counseling Awareness Month this year. With the rise in suicides and depression due to COVID-19, it’s more critical than ever before to help those who are struggling.
What is National Counseling Awareness Month?
The American Counseling Association (ACA) named April National Counseling Awareness Month. The ACA is a not-for-profit organization that provides resources to optimize counseling and professional growth. It was founded in 1952 when there was less understanding of mental health conditions. The organization seeks to ensure counselors utilize ethical practices to protect and treat patients.
The purpose of any awareness campaign is to break down barriers, minimize misinformation, and provide resources. Counseling Awareness Month seeks to bring awareness to all sorts of mental health problems, not just anxiety and depression. This includes everything from codependency, poor work-life balance, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, and more.
Many people believe that they need to have a diagnosed anxiety disorder or depression to seek counseling. Those who struggle with grief, loss, or stress may avoid counseling because they don’t think it's meant for them.
National Counseling Awareness Month was enacted to let everyone know that they have the right to ask for help. We are all human, and life can be difficult. At some point or another, each of us needs to ask for help. We may talk to a close friend, pastor, or family member, but this isn’t always enough. Counseling should always be an option, regardless of what type of problem we face.
Every year, the organization picks a new theme. In 2021, the theme is “The Future is Self-Care, Advocacy, and Inclusion” It focuses on how therapy should help everyone from different communities and backgrounds. It is also a reminder that counselors should be compassionate, empathetic, accepting, dedicated, hopeful, and understanding.
Resources and Learning
If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health problem, there is help available. Here are some resources –
· American Counseling Association – Please visit counseling.org or call 800-347-6647
· National Alliance on Mental Health – Please visit nami.org or call the helpline at 800-950-6264. In a crisis, text “NAMI” to 741741 for 24/7, confidential support
· SAMHSA – Please call 800-662-HELP. This is a 24/7 hotline for treatment referral
· Suicide Prevention Hotline – Please call 800-273-TALK for confidential suicide intervention
· Mental Health Association in California – Please visit mhac.org for a free mental health screening and mental health resources in California
· U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – Visit samhsa.gov to find help for substance abuse
· Straight Talk Counseling – Please call 714-828-2000 or visit straighttalkcounseling.org to schedule an appointment
Are you feeling anxious, depressed, or struggling with another mental health condition? If so, you aren’t alone. Please contact Straight Talk Counseling at 714-828-2000 or visit our website at straighttalkcounseling.org. One of our professional counselors would be happy to speak with you.