Seeing a doctor for our physical health is seen as something normal with no one as much as batting an eyelash, but when it's for our mental health, the reactions tend to be more opinionated.

Humans are emotional beings, and all handle emotions differently. There are tons of factors that can play into our mental health, from life changes, to stress at school or work, to family and romantic relationships. Often times mental health and physical health can go hand in hand, as these factors can easily bear a heavy weight on a person, so naturally, they want to seek professional help, sometimes with reluctance. Why the reluctance?

Therapy is misperceived with being "weak", "not having a strong support system" or "being crazy". People are name-called and ostracized for admitting to going to therapy or counseling, leaving a feeling of guilt for emotions out of their control. The misperceptions and stigma that have lingered in society leave people afraid of the judgment they would receive upon reaching out for help, resulting in many people never receiving the health.

The stigma seems to come from a lack of awareness and discussion regarding the topic rather than people publicly calling people out and shaming. Men specifically undergo reluctance to seek therapy or counseling as they may be seen as too emotional, weak, or not the "stoic" physique they are expected to be; which is an outdated stereotype in this day and age, as men's mental health is equally important to women's.

I have been in the position of fearing what others would think if I sought therapy, but after having done several group sessions, I can say that was one of the smarter decisions I've made. Before I had begun with therapy, I was struggling with trying to get myself back on track after getting out of a toxic relationship and adjusting to the transition into college and was honestly overwhelmed. I was a little afraid of digging up those feelings again, but it helped me get to the root of everything and I learned how to move forward. Going to therapy made me realize how I wasn't alone with my situation, and I was able to get advice from professionals as well as peers and has left me feeling the confidence and self-love I have deserved all along. Compared to where I was before reaching out, I am incredibly thankful I was proactive and addressed my mental health and took the positive steps necessary.

There will always be those who automatically get a certain mindset when they hear the word "therapy", but there are things we can do to minimize mindsets like that.

The first step to fighting the stigma around therapy is to openly discuss mental health while educating others through shared experiences. You will soon see that others can relate to you and you can work through your struggles together. More communication around the subject will make more people realize that it isn't scary or something of which to be ashamed; it's a safe place to get professional input and a place to put all your feelings and inner thoughts out in the open, without the bias or influence of family or friends.

With a little compassion and understanding for our mental health, we can accomplish a lot. Don't be afraid to be open and honest when it comes to your own mental health as well as others; suggesting therapy should never be an insult. With therapy and showing our mental health the attention it deserves can allow us to empower ourselves and be the best versions of ourselves in the long run, and is a step in erasing the stigma that has plagued society for too long.