Psych Talk: Mental Health Stigma-Breathe! You are Not Crazy

Dr. Soseh Esmaeili

Editor’s Note: This week we welcome Dr. Soseh Esmaeili to the roster of Asbarez’s contributors. Dr. Esmaeili’s column will focus on mental health She will attempt to provide important information to the community and bust some myths about mental health.

“Therapy?! Doesn’t that mean you’re crazy?”- This is often the underlying question that has plagued psychotherapy in popular culture. Fear of judgment, exposure, evaluation, and vulnerability are some of the many reasons why people may steer clear from receiving help from mental health professionals. The reality is that many high functioning, non-“crazy” individuals seek therapy and find it immensely beneficial. A mental health professional is an individual who can help the client process, understand, and become aware of issues that impact a person’s everyday life. Over the years I have heard several concerns from my Armenian community that I will attempt to address:

1. If I wanted advice, I will ask my friends: Your therapist is not there to provide advice on your life. After all, you are the expert in that area. The therapist however, can provide an unbiased approach to help guide you to make decisions that are right for you. He/she can help raise insight and awareness and facilitate solutions for issues and behaviors that are causing distress in your day-to-day living.

2. I don’t want anyone to know I am in therapy: Mental health professionals maintain confidentiality. Your participation in therapy and what you share within your sessions remain private. Confidentiality can only be broken if you, the client, make statements regarding suicide, harm to others, incidents of child/elder/disabled person abuse, or a court order.

3. I don’t want to be judged and labeled as crazy: Receiving help to understand your behaviors and emotions does not mean that you’re crazy. Psychotherapy can come in all shapes and sizes- couples and family therapy, children’s play therapy, individual adult and adolescent therapy, group counseling, etc. Believe it or not, many people go through similar struggles in life such as difficulties in marriages, worries about child rearing, difficulties talking to your teenager, issues around acculturation, feeling misunderstood by parents and teachers, having a hard time meeting others, struggling with depression or anxiety, and even struggling to find out who you are. Therapy can help understand and process these issues without judgment.

This monthly column will attempt to shed light on the myths of mental health that have remained in our community. And remember… “My friend…care for your psyche…know thyself, for once we know ourselves, we may learn how to care for ourselves” – Socrates

Until next time,

Soseh Esmaeili, PsyD, Psychological Assistant (#PSB63123); (818) 669-2998; Supervised by James S. Graves, PhD, PsyD

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