2019 has already brought us many highs and lows, new music and movies, funny memes and the latest fashion trends. Building on the wave of self-care, bath bombs, and face masks, I'm hearing more and more about millennials engaging in therapy. A dialogue initiated by younger generations about anxiety, depression and low-self-esteem is happening and it’s beginning to change the long-standing stigma about mental health issues. The days of emotional suppression are fading, and young people are seeking therapy for growth and change.
It’s not uncommon for many of us to feel that our mental health issues are something to be ashamed of, something that needs to be kept a secret. Many of us also grew up in families that instilled in us to keep things in the family, meaning we weren’t supposed to talk about our
struggles with outsiders. Maybe your family didn’t believe depression or anxiety were even real and that you just wanted attention. Maybe you tried to tell your mom or your dad or your grandma that you were depressed, and they said, “what you got to be depressed about?!”
“According to a 2017 report from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State University, which compiled data from 147 colleges and universities, the number of students seeking mental health help increased from 2011 to 2016 at five times the rate of new students
starting college.” (Source: The Wall Street Journal https://www.wsj.com/articles/millennials-are-
The stigma surrounding mental health is still quite strong, but barriers are being broken every day. Co-workers are having open conversations about their feelings. Friends and families are encouraging their loved ones to seek therapy. Celebrities are opening up about their mental
health issues. Bloggers and YouTubers are openly sharing their personal experiences with mental health and encouraging their followers to engage and join the conversation with a universal message of, “you are not alone.”
Therapy is the opportunity to gain new insight and perspective, build strength, and most importantly, heal. A lot of us are carrying a deep history of pain and hurt and combined with the weight of student loan debt, daily life stressors, and overall uncertainty about the future, it can just be too much to bear. Fortunately, therapy is a safe space to begin to work on self- exploration, skill building and improving the quality of life.
So, what’s the first step? I encourage anyone who’s interested in therapy to begin with searching for a therapist who may be a good fit. Sites like Psychology Today are great for seeing a picture of your future therapist and reading bios about their education, areas of specialty and skills. Keep in mind that your first therapy session may not be a good fit, but it is worth it to keep looking for “the one.” Like other relationships, the therapeutic relationship takes times to build rapport and comfortability.
You may also be thinking, “but I’m not crazy.” There really is no issue too big or too small for therapy not to be beneficial. Therapy is meant to help you in any way that you may need. We can all benefit from empathy and a listening ear.
Cassidi Long, LPC