Black People Don’t Kill Themselves: 4 Common Mental Health Misperceptions

2. Counseling is for crazy people. This statement could not be more false. Honestly, avoiding help when it is available is crazy in my opinion. Counselors are trained to help people deal with problems of everyday living like stress or address more serious chronic mental illness. Anyone who is trying to cope with daily life can benefit from counseling. Why wait until a situation is out of control to seek out support?

3. I can talk to my pastor instead of going to counseling. As a woman of faith, spirituality is the foundation of my life. HOWEVER, unless your pastor is a licensed psychotherapist or psychologist, talking to him or her is not a substitute for working with a mental health professional. I personally believe spirituality is a critical component of mental wellness; however you can talk to your pastor in conjunction with seeing a therapist.  You can also consider finding a counselor that integrates general spirituality or your particular religious beliefs into the treatment.

4. Telling a stranger my business isn’t going to fix my problems. Actually, talking to a stranger might be the perfect answer to your problem. Unlike your friend or a family member, a therapist is a non-judgmental third party who can provide insight into your situation.  Effective counseling does NOT focus on talking about problems but uncovering solutions. Over time you will build a relationship with your counselor and gain the tools to transform your life.

Sometimes I think about how the right support could have transformed the life of the teen girl I mentioned in the beginning.  I saw her a little over a year after that incident. I was no longer her school counselor and she was still battling depression. She ended up failing most of her courses, pregnant, and acting out with defiant behavior at home.  I guess her grandmother was right, the young lady did not commit suicide, but her mental health issues negatively impacted her life in ways that could have been prevented.  Today I challenge you to examine your own beliefs about mental health. By addressing these misperceptions, we can begin to change the stigma associated with getting treatment.

 

Latrice McNealLatrice McNeal is a speaker, licensed professional counselor, and trainer specializing in performance and mental wellness for high achieving leaders, professionals, and entrepreneurs. Connect with Latrice on Facebook, LinkedIn, or by email at [email protected].

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