No, your problems aren't too small to seek therapy
The phrase ‘drama queen’ has really not done wonders for our mental health.
So high is the stigma around being ‘melodramatic’, that we’re often inclined to dismiss our own problems as ‘meaningless’ or not worthy of professional intervention.
We don’t want to be seen to be making a fuss out of nothing.
But you don’t need to be in crisis to seek therapy. In fact, getting help before that point is crucial – and totally normal.
Currently, in the UK, an estimated one in eight adults (12.1%) receive some form of mental health treatment, according to the Mental Health Foundation.
Yet many of us still don’t realise that there is no problem too small for therapy.
You don’t need to have a specific issue, a diagnosis or be completely overwhelmed to qualify for help.
Jordan Vyas-Lee, a psychotherapist and co-founder of the mental health care clinic Kove, believes that therapy can be a powerful tool for everyone, no matter where you are on your mental health journey.
Below, he shares the most common therapy misconceptions which can prevent people from seeking help and offers her advice:
Myth 1: ‘Everyone struggles sometimes, and they cope.’
‘Thinking like this is a sign of mental health impostor syndrome,’ Jordan explains.
‘You may believe that your problem isn’t as bad as someone you know, so you don’t need to seek help.’
But thinking like this is counterproductive. Life isn’t a competition, and we all cope with situations differently, so try to avoid comparing yourself to others.
It is also possible that the people around you are dealing with their problems in private, in a way that they haven’t shared with you.
‘Some people use unhealthy coping strategies, such as excessive drinking or drug use, to avoid confronting their issues,’ Jordan adds. ‘This can make it seem like they are doing fine to the outside world.’
Myth 2: ‘My problems aren’t big or worthy enough.’
If you are struggling with something, it’s valid because it impacts you and your daily life.
‘No problem is too small to see a therapist,’ Jordan says.
‘If something has been bothering you, maybe even for months or years, it’s worth speaking to someone to move forward.’
A problem that might seem small can fester and become bigger in the future if it’s ignored. But you don’t actually need to have a specific problem to be able to speak to a therapist.
‘You might want support working through a transition in your life. For example, getting a new job, moving home, or starting a new relationship,’ Jordan says.
‘Some people also visit a therapist to maintain their mental health and identify potential issues early. One type of therapy that can be useful for this is counselling.’
Getting therapy for a little extra support and help, even if you are unsure about why is also completely fine.
Myth 3: ‘My mental health isn’t that bad.’
All struggles, regardless of how big or small, are entirely valid.
‘No matter how they may feel to you, therapy is likely to benefit you in improving things,’ Jordan explains.
‘Moreover, there are often more issues and psychological barriers than the ones you notice. Therapy helps to shine a light on these too.’
Signs you might need therapy:
~ Ongoing tiredness/ fatigue
~ Low-level self-critical thinking
~ Spending a lot of time alone
~ Avoiding challenging situations
~ Experiencing intrusive thoughts
~ Having a general lack of interest in activities
~ Losing hope that life will never be as you desire.
But what if you can’t access therapy?
Even after you’ve tackled some of these internalised misconceptions, accessing therapy may be a challenge.
In a cost of living crisis, not everyone has access to funds for private therapy – a report from the think tank IPPR (Institute for Public Policy Research) indicated that 59% of people can’t afford to go private.
And NHS waiting lists can be long. According to research conducted by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, 43% of adults with mental illness say that the long wait times for treatment has caused their mental health to get worse, with almost a quarter (23%) saying that they have had to wait over 12 weeks to start treatment.
Below, we’ve outlined some charities, apps and other organisations that offer free mental health support. For more urgent issues, the NHS has advice on how to access urgent mental health helplines in your area.
Free mental health support:
- Mind infoline on: 0300 123 3393 for their information and signposting service. You can speak to them about mental health problems, where to get help near you, treatment options and advocacy services.
- NHS therapy programmes nhs.uk/service-search for talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), counselling, other therapies, guided self-help and help for common mental health problems, like anxiety and depression.
- SHOUT Text: 85258 to access a ‘free, confidential, 24/7 text messaging support service for anyone who is struggling to cope.’
- Your local council may also have services in place to help you, for example, lambeth council offers a local Talking Therapy Service that people can self refer to.
- The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: [email protected]
- Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0300 5000 927 (open Monday to Friday 10am-4pm).
- Mental Health Matters (MHM) offers telephone counselling as well as talking therapies in some areas. Call 0191 516 3500 between 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday or email [email protected].
- The LGBT Foundation, a charity based in Manchester, offers mental health services and resources to the gay community, including befriending, free counselling and a support helpline.
- London Friend is an LGBT+ charity which offers support for the health and mental wellbeing of the LGBT community in and around London, offering a telephone support service, as well as counselling and support groups.
- For students, your college and university should have free counselling services listed on their website.
- If you want to connect with a community of people who may have similar experiences to you then online groups such as Elefriends may be helpful.
- If meditation and mindfulness are more your thing or you just want to get in-the-moment help, then using a free app such as Calm for help with sleep, meditation and relaxation or Headspace if you’re experiencing changes in thoughts, feelings or behaviours, could be beneficial.
However, if you are unable to access free/low-cost therapy and still want to speak to someone then we reccomend that you find a private therapist by searching through the Counselling Directory or the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) to ensure you are getting help from a qualified professional.
Need urgent help?
For emotional support you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.
If you’re a young person, or concerned about a young person, you can also contact PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide UK. Their HOPELINK digital support platform is open 24/7, or you can call 0800 068 4141, text 07860039967 or email: [email protected] between the hours of 9am and midnight.
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Get in touch by emailing [email protected].
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