Destigmatizing counselling services

Nothing has to “be wrong” for you to seek help

In college, we repeatedly hear about the resources available to us. We have to read about all of them in forms and we see flyers up all over campus for things offered. These range from academics to health. However, I have noticed that taking advantage of those resources for your health often are ignored or carry a stigma. One of these is the counseling services at school. I have heard people say “you go to counseling, why what’s wrong?” or I have heard people say “he goes to counseling? For what?” As much as hearing these words made my blood boil, they said so much about how we need to change the conversation in respect to what counseling can do and why counseling is important.

I believe that everyone can benefit from going to a counselor. A counselor is just there to listen to you. Going to a counselor can be no different than ranting to a friend about how shitty your day was or how much work you have. The difference is that a counselor is someone who can offer you professional advice on how to handle that stuff that is bothering you. Let’s be honest, we are all in college and we all have gotten stressed so far this year at least once. Sometimes we have a stressful week (AKA weeks leading up to finals) and we just don’t know how to deal with it. Yep, counselors can be there just to listen to how stressed you are and maybe help you think of ways that can help you control it. Wouldn’t it be nice to just talk about it out loud? There does not have to be something mentally wrong with you to go see a counselor. I am sick of hearing that only people with mental illnesses and “issues” go to counseling and therapy.

I just talked everything out and someone was there to listen, not judge or not tell me about how stressful their day was too.

I am not afraid to say that I started going to the counseling services just this semester. I personally started going because I feel more stressed than I did last semester, but rather than just stress about in my dorm, I wanted to learn a better way to handle the stress and get the work done. My friends noticed how much pressure I was putting on myself and how it was causing me to constantly be worrying about work in just the first week of the semester. My friends suggested that I should maybe go to the counseling center to see if I could get an appointment with someone to just talk about how to handle the stress. I had been to counselors before back home, but never really felt like it helped me so I never thought about going here. Maybe, this was some of the stigma affecting me as I kept thinking that I didn’t have time to go. However, deep down I knew that it would be beneficial for me to give it another try, so I went over to the center and made an appointment with someone the next day. Just after going one time, I felt so much better because I just talked everything out and someone was there to listen, not judge or not tell me about how stressful they’re day was too. Going to the counseling services should not be something people feel ashamed or scared of and it does not matter what you go to the counseling services for. The fact is that none of us have it all together all the time and that is the reality.

A counselor is someone who can offer you professional advice on how to handle that stuff that is bothering you.

Yes, it is true that everyone can have different experiences with counseling, but it should not be something that we totally shut down or judge as it has been proven to serve as such a benefit to so many people. So ask yourself how can we as not just a campus, but as a society in general overcome the stigma we carry about counseling? For starters on campus, support your friends if they say they are going to start going counseling, don’t just ask them “why, what’s wrong with you?” There does not need to be something “wrong” with someone if they choose to go. Another way to stop this stigma is to have conversations with your friends and your family about it, explain to people who do not understand. If we just avoid the topic because it is a “touchy subject”, then nothing can ever change. However, we must all work together if we are to end the stigma associated with counseling.

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