How Normalizing Counseling Could Be the Answer TO Rising Depression Rates
By Zack Macomber
When you hear someone talk about being healthy, the first things you think of are exercising, dieting, drinking water, sleeping eight hours a day, and other boxes everyone should check off. While all of these are good (and important), all of them deal primarily with physical health. Mental health is another important aspect of health.
In recent years, mental health has become more common to talk about in everyday conversation. You don’t need statistics to see that. Every day, people on social media are speaking out about their mental health. A simple search for YouTube videos about mental health will result in over 14 million results.
Of course, the majority of these videos will not be from professionals. That doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them, but in the same way that a mechanic knows more about your car than your neighbor Steve who worked on cars when he was younger, a therapist knows much more about mental health than the average person.
Therapy has different meanings to different generations. Emma (no last name given), who wrote an article for the National Centre for Mental Health, an institution founded by the Welsh Government, points out that two generations of men fought in World War I and World War II. She writes, “Men may have left the beaches of Normandy and the battle of the Somme physically uninjured, and were considered the lucky ones, whilst thinking they were the only ones unable to sleep at night.” 
She also states that “the only ‘treatment’ available was dangerous insulin or electroshock therapy.”  It is no surprise that the subject of mental health became taboo.
Our generation has been blessed to grow up in the information age, and part of that information has been exposure to all sorts of different mental health issues. We no longer live in a time where people who had panic attacks would be locked away in an asylum. We can recognize our own issues and realize when we need help.
But now, just like our older generations, we have come face-to-face with an event that has impacted us all. COVID-19 showed up and took away our school, our social life, our work, and our play.
The pandemic has exposed certain aspects of our society that need to be fixed. A study by Mental Health America showed that the number of people actively seeking help for anxiety and depression has skyrocketed, with increases of over 90%. They also showed that “8 in 10 people who took a depression screen have scored with symptoms of moderate to severe depression consistently since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.” 
Another statistic shows that depression and anxiety in young people has increased more than any other group of people.  What will be the ramifications of this pandemic?
Looking again at our physical health, if we are feeling sick, many times we are allowed to take time off from work or school. Of course, part of this is to protect other people from catching the same sickness, but it is also because we cannot perform at our best when we are not feeling our best.
A report by the BBC points out that the workplace is rapidly making a change by demanding “less from the body and more from the mind.”  This causes more stress to be present. While stress can be good, when it is prolonged, it can be devastating to an individual.
Mental health should be treated in the same way that we approach physical health. Just as we have routine doctor’s appointments; we should also have routine counseling appointments. All of us face different levels of stress every day, and while this pandemic continues, all of us are covered by an extra blanket of stress.
For too long, the public opinion about counseling and therapy has been negative. There are many times when we will rant to our friends and family, hoping to find some sort of solution to the frustrations and stresses of life, but our friends and family are not equipped to fully aid us in our struggles.
Walla Walla University has amazing resources in their counseling department. You should reach out if you need any help with mental health, even if it is just for one meeting. It is the normal thing to do.
- Emma. (2020, February 13). Generational differences in perceptions of mental health. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3smRKeQ.
- Mental Health America. (2021). The State of Mental Health in America. Retrieved from https://mhanational.org/issues/state-mental-health-america.
- M Storoni. (2019, August 13). Why stress is dangerous—and how to avoid its affects. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190813-burnout-anxiety-stress-proof-relief