During therapy, clients express a lot of misconceptions about what mental health is. I am always surprised with how much we believe that good mental health means that everything should be perfect.
In this post I would like to focus on the 3 most common myths about mental health usually shared with me during therapy sessions with my clients.
Good mental health = no problems
According to the World Health Organization, good mental health is not the absence of mental health problems or challenges. A good balance for your mental health means:
> Being able to cope with stressful situations
> Being able to learn new things and being productive
> Being able to contribute to your work and the community
Fake it until you make it
Many people come into therapy to learn new ways to deal with stressful situations. When I ask about their adopted coping strategies, more often than not they talk to me about their tendency to suppress a stressful situation.
Protecting ourselves from any type of pain, either physical or emotional, is deeply embedded in our functionality as human beings. Physical or emotional pain could potentially make us look weaker to the eyes of our enemies who are threatening our survival.
Psychoeducation is an important part of therapy and I usually explain to my clients two things about our emotional suppression for survival:
1. Suppression of emotions, faking we are ok when we are not, can be a helpful strategy only on a temporary basis. It helps to find the appropriate conditions to address the feelings later.
2. Today’s lifestyle does not entail that many threats of survival (unless you have any bears attacking you any minute where you live). There is a bigger and bigger acceptance of being sensitive or “not at your best” some days.
A significant training element in therapy is helping clients understand which are the best strategies to bring emotions to the front and process them. Processing can be hard and can create emotional discomfort, but this is why actually going through this makes you brave and leads to change towards growth.
Having a hard time? Go for some self-care!
Another misconception I would like to address is the fact that self-care is only for challenging days. This could not be furthest from the truth. During therapy, it is important to collaborate with your therapist and find the best self-care routine for you.
Self-care is important to be adopted and involved in our daily habits. This helps to build resilience towards future stressors that are coming our way. This routine helps maintain a sense of balance even when we are in the most unstable situations.