You should really go to therapy

Actually, everyone should go to therapy.

There’s this idea that’s perpetuated that only those with the worst problems,  feelings or illnesses need help. And it’s a dangerous idea. Regardless of the person, everyone can benefit from talking about their issues and receiving advice from a qualified professional.

Therapy is seen as something for “crazy” people. For the worst of the worst with countless issues and problems. The truth? I attend therapy weekly. I’ve been in therapy for three years. I’ve stayed in a psychiatric ward. And none of these are bad things. They are necessary things that have provided me with the help and support I’ve needed during times when I’ve struggled the most.

And even when I’m not struggling, talking to someone is still helpful. When I’ve not been anxious or depressed, I’ve addressed past issues or small problems. I’ve gotten my ADHD diagnosed. And I shouldn’t be ashamed to admit that. No one should.

When someone breaks their arm, they don’t try to hide it from anyone. When they visit their doctor for their yearly check-up, they don’t keep it a secret. It’s because we don’t view these things as shameful, but anything associated with mental health is. And this shame is dangerous.

According to a study published by the U.S. Library of Medicine,“There is no country, society or culture where people with mental illness have the same societal value as people without mental illness.”

This prejudice has death counts and body tolls. Suicide is the second leading cause of death from the ages of 10 to24, the National Alliance on Mental Illness says.

Everyone can benefit from therapy. Everyone can benefit from addressing their issues and emotions. Therapy can teach you coping mechanisms, better communication skills or how to be a better parent, friend or partner.

The reality is that one in five adults in the U.S. experience mental health issues each year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. One in six children from the ages of six to17 experience a mental disorder each year.

But this isn’t the only reason to go to therapy. Therapy should be treated as a regular doctor’s check-up. Yearly physicals are part of the norm; why can’t yearly psychiatric visits be treated the same?

The stigma surrounding mental health in our society points towards a larger issue: the way our healthcare system treats mental health. I consider myself extremely lucky to have parents that are willing to pay for me to attend therapy that our insurance doesn’t cover.

Health care, especially for mental health, is a privilege in the U.S. when it should be a right. The 2008 Mental Health Parity Act means that insurance provider’s dollar limits for mental health benefits can’t be any lower than the limits for medical or surgical benefits. Despite this, the difficulty of finding providers in an insurance’s “network” can be extremely difficult. By ensuring that their network doesn’t include or reach many mental health care providers, insurance companies essentially keep people from receiving psychiatric or therapeutic care that they can afford.

A report from the Mental Health Treatment and Research Institute found that a visit to a therapeutic or psychiatric office is more than five times as likely to be out of network than an appointment for primary care. This means that the care isn’t covered by the insurance, and the cost will be out-of-pocket. There aren’t enough mental health care providers in the U.S. and many of them don’t even accept insurance since they aren’t paid enough by insurance providers.

The combination of stigma surrounding mental illness and the difficulties in accessing care creates a culture of shame and avoidance. This culture keeps us isolated in our own issues and emotions. We can better connect with ourselves and with each other. We can address our feelings healthily, in an environment without judgment or prejudice.

Therapy is needed. For everyone. No one can get through this life alone with their own thoughts and feelings clogging up their minds. If we open ourselves up to the idea that no one is completely in control of how they feel and that there is no shame in seeking help for these feelings, we can create a culture that is more connected and more open and more loving.

In the words of my therapist, “We can’t fix everything. We can only be here for each other. And that has to be enough.”