The World Health Organization defines mental health as a sense of well-being in which individuals realize their potential. These individuals can contribute to the community, work productively, and cope with life’s stresses.
Both our body and our mind need to be healthy for us to function properly because they’re more interconnected than we realize. Both functions will be impacted if one is not in good health.
The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that one out of five Americans hasa mental illness,which is more than 40 million adults annually. A number of methods are available to assist in overcoming mental health problems. Counseling is one that has proven to be effective. By seeking counseling, you can successfully deal with your situation’s psychological and emotional difficulties, thereby enabling you to change for the better.
The importance of counseling can be attributed to the fact that it has several benefits for those who seek it. A few of such benefits of counseling are mentioned below:
Offers Validation and Support
A counselor strives to create a supportive, non-judgmental, safe environment where clients can feel at ease discussing personal matters. As a rule, a licensed clinical counselor must possess three essential qualities;positive regard, empathetic understanding, and sincerity. This means providing a place for patients to seek treatment without fear of judgment, ridicule, or retribution. Their feelings are validated, their circumstances are normalized, and they will be assured that they are not alone in their experiences.
Self-efficacy is the exact opposite of self-doubt. Self-efficacy plays a vital role in helping individuals overcome obstacles they may encounter throughout their lives. Those who possess self-efficacy have a strong sense of self-confidence.
Therapy and counseling can promote self-confidence and help patients overcome different life challenges. There may be various ways in which a counselor approaches this process. In any case, the theory is likely to have its roots in the work of Albert Bandura, who pioneered the concept of social learning. His paper on self-efficacy suggests that a person can enhance their ability to manage stress by taking advantage of encouragement and minimizing their stress response. A counselor can assist patients with both aspects (providing encouragement and mitigating the stress response), thereby contributing to their self-efficacy.
Supports Self-Discovery and Exploration
The benefits of counseling include finding out more about yourself and gaining a more thorough understanding of your values, beliefs, and personality.
By increasing self-awareness, patients can understand how they are contributing to the problems they are facing, and awareness is a key factor in achieving change. In doing so, they are encouraged to embark on a journey of self-development.
Assists in Managing Stress
An individual’s ability to manage stress is essential for recovery. The purpose of counseling is to help patients identify the issues that stress them out and determine how to handle them. Furthermore, counseling is an effective means of assisting patients in avoiding becoming overly stressed in the first place.
Positive thinking can even be enhanced by counseling. Unmanaged stress has the potential to impact a person’s life negatively. For instance, it can make it more difficult for an individual to resist the temptation to use drugs and alcohol. It can also present itself in the form of unusual physical symptoms. Chronically stressed individuals may experience aches and pains more frequently.
Enhances Emotional Expression
A counselor can assist you in identifying, expressing, and regulating your emotions, no matter what type of emotional difficulty you are dealing with, for example, depression or anxiety.
When you become aware of your stressors, understand maladaptive coping methods, and model how to deal with situational triggers, you can effectively express and cope with your emotions. Doing so can prevent negative emotions from escalating and leading to unhealthy behaviors.
Reveals Hidden Mental Illnesses
It is common to feel stressed or sad from time to time. However, if they’re overwhelming enough to interfere with your daily life, then something is wrong. That said, a person may not be able to determine whether they are suffering from a mental illness right away.
For example, some people may feel extremely upset and sad at times and then extremely happy for no apparent reason. Although they can lead a normal life, they cannot escape the feeling that something is wrong. These are evident symptoms of bipolar disorder and can be easily detected by a counselor. Nevertheless, a counselor can only make an appropriate assessment after observing a number of symptoms that support such a diagnosis.
Provides a Safe Outlet for Venting
Counseling provides a safe environment for venting to alleviate concerns regarding mental health, relationships, and situational issues. Sometimes it is necessary to let go of thoughts or concerns we have on our minds, yet we fear the repercussions or are concerned about what others will think. Counseling ensures an environment of non-judgmental communication and confidentiality.
The more we bottle up negative feelings/thoughts, the more likely we will experience their release at some point. Counseling is where grievances can be expressed, complaints can be voiced, resentments can be vented, pent-up emotions can be released, and hidden pains can be uncovered.
Provides an Additional Layer of Support
Being in the midst of a difficult period can hinder communication. People who suffer from addictions, mental illnesses, or disorders may experience moments when they feel themselves spiraling downward.
At times such as these, it is imperative to have people who can give people a sense of their self-worth and convince them not to engage in self-destructive behavior. For instance, recovering addicts are prone to relapse. It is estimated that up to 60% of people who are recovering will relapse. In times of need, a counselor or therapist can assist in preventing relapse.
Over the past few years, there have been numerous debates on counseling’s effectiveness. Several studies have shown that counseling benefits recipients in many ways. Many people who enjoy these benefits also experience improvement in other areas of life.
The importance of mental health should be equally acknowledged as that of physical health. The stigma attached to mental health should be addressed. From time to time, all humans need assistance in coping with their emotions skillfully, which is one of the purposes of counseling.
A mental health counselor can improve and even save a person’s life. A person seeking counseling represents an act of strength and courage since it marks the beginning of their journey to improve their mental health.