By: Charlene Aviles, Staff Writer
Mental health hasn’t been getting any better over these past few years. COVID-19, climate disasters, and war have been sources of stress and anxiety, and that’s to say nothing of the responsibilities of being a student. Fortunately, counsellors are specifically trained to help us process whatever issues are troubling our minds. Though there may still be a stigma related to mental health challenges, taking care of your health should be celebrated, be it mental or otherwise.
A counselling session might be a great stress reliever, because you can discuss any topics freely. This could be helpful in finding guidance in work, relationships, identity issues, or in letting out any bottled up emotions that you’re struggling to express. Being proactive with mental health is crucial. For example, one study found repressing emotions doesn’t lead to them disappearing; they actually might worsen. Similarly, relationships, jobs, and identity are all strengthened by communication. Learning how to discuss issues clearly and directly can help build a stronger support network with those around you.
If there’s one lesson I’ve learned, it’s that counselling can be beneficial for relieving a wide range of emotions, like grief, worry, and fear. Going to counselling can be the first step in relieving stress.
There’s no one-size-fits-all format for counselling sessions. There are different types, ranging from individual sessions to group therapy. What’s important is that you’re patient with yourself when it comes to finding a counsellor. While some people may prefer individual counselling sessions, it’s possible another format might be better for your needs. For example, SFU Health & Counselling has health peers, students who can movitate students towards a healthier lifestyle, without the formal guidance of a counsellor.
Often, people believe counselling is a last resort, which is really not the case. Sometimes when we’re stressed, a balanced lifestyle is at the bottom of our to-do list. However, when we feel overwhelmed, we might need counselling the most. Instead, think of it as an investment in your health. Counselling, like other forms of self-care, isn’t a one-time event or a reward after a busy day. It’s an ongoing commitment to focus on yourself.
If you’ve never attended a counselling session before, I recognize it can be daunting. It takes a lot of patience and courage to disclose personal information, and it may feel vulnerable at times. As a psychology major, I recognize that mental health conditions may be long-term or chronic. I’m not suggesting one counselling session will fix all of your problems, but it might give you some new perspectives and a much needed break to reflect on your situation. Whether you’re concerned about your mental health or not, going to counselling is a proactive approach to taking care of yourself.