Gabriel’s gains: consider seeking a therapist

Illustration by Sydney Hanish

College students are not seeking the help they need when it comes to mental health. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 50% of college students rated their mental health below average or poor and 40% of college students fail to seek help. Poor mental health, left untreated, will snowball into worse mental health. Despite therapy becoming increasingly accessible in recent years, there is still a large number of students who do not seek a mental health professional, despite the possible benefits.

Entering college is, for many people, a moment of liberation. It is a time to spread your wings and show the world what you can do on your own. Unfortunately, this can lead to viewing help or asking for help as a sign of weakness. Many people find therapy and counseling to be a sign of weakness. This is not the case. 

At no point does asking for help display weakness. Asking for help displays your ability to be honest with yourself and those you are asking help from. For many, myself included, admitting your own shortcomings and limitations is  difficult. Admitting to yourself and others that a problem is present can cause discomfort and irritation. However, brushing it off or struggling through it alone is not a productive or healthy mode of handling problems no matter their size. 

You should not wait until the problem is overwhelming to start asking for and seeking out help. Nor should you discount your own problems because they do not seem as severe as others. A problem is a problem no matter how intense, and therapy is not just for big problems. It is not Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, and you do not need a mental illness to be allotted a golden ticket to therapy.

Therapy is not just a person analyzing you with a notebook as you lay out on a chaise longue. Whether you are utilizing creative techniques with art therapy, guided hypnosis or breathing techniques and meditation with MBCT, finding the method that works best for you is important. 75% percent of people who experience psychotherapy demonstrate benefit. If you are having agoraphobic tendencies, online therapy might be the right method for you.  

Lewis & Clark offers counseling services and is open 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. every Monday through Friday, when school is in session. You can either drop in for a walk-in consultation from Tuesdays 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in lower Odell or on Thursdays from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in lower Templeton. Walk-ins are designed to be single-session and last 20 to 30 minutes. You may also schedule an assessment which is a 45 minute long comprehensive assessment which often results in a referral to ongoing psychological care. They also offer a crisis line that operates 24/7 at 503-265-7804.

Along with the correct method depending on what you need help with, it might take time to find the correct therapist. I personally went through three therapists before I found one that I was comfortable with and was able to make advancements with. Just because the first therapist you go to does not work out does not mean therapy will not work for you. It does not mean that there is something wrong with you, either. It just means that finding the help you need is going to take some time. 

Make sure you take the time, because mental health is just as important as physical health. You are likely not going to make any drastic changes in your first appointment. You might go through many therapists or discover that the method you thought would be best for you is not. Nonetheless, it is important to reach out and ask for help. There is no reason to go through problems or trauma alone.

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