The Barriers to Getting Help

What do many people think of when they hear the word counselling?

Do they resort back to an older way of thinking and assume this must mean tests, medications and visits to people with white coats? Do they assume that something must be wrong with them, or that they are insane?  Or have we evolved at all.

Counselling sure has.

We live daily in a society in which broken limbs are mended and rehabilitated, sore backs are soothed by massage and exercise and unhappy people can transform their appearances with surgery. We accept it. It’s part of our modern world. If someone were to inform their friends or family that they had fractured their arm and were going to proceed with the medical care suggested by their doctor – cast and physiotherapy – I doubt much opposition would be presented. They would be encouraged to do so.


However, let’s entertain the idea of someone telling their friends or family that they are going to Counselling. Or someone is told by a Doctor or other medical professional, that they recommend therapy for them. I can tell you that I have witnessed the many times. People often get offended and defensive. It is a taboo territory for them. Friends and families are often unsupportive and critical, offering advice and opinions that belittle and judge.

This is no fault of our own. We have created stigmas and taboos in our society about our mental and emotional well-being out of fear and ignorance. We have created ways of thinking that bluntly state that it’s OK for humankind to be vulnerable and to break physically, but mentally and emotionally, we are supposed to be indestructible, infallible and perfectly sound. We are not allowed to be depressed, anxious, or traumatized and those who are, well, it’s their own fault Sometimes we cast them out of our social circles and leave them abandoned and alone.

Too many people are unaccepting of the ‘broken bones’ of our mental health. Unfortunately, our youth are the ones who are suffering the most. Growing up in a world where they are stigmatized and discriminated against for seeking the help they need, is taking a costly toll on their lives. Almost one half (49%) of our youth who feel they have suffered from depression or anxiety have never gone to see a doctor about this problem. That means that half of those suffering youth are not even considering counselling. They are waking up every day living with a huge painful, debilitating, limiting ‘broken arm’ in their heads.

This can change. It must. There is real help and it is available right now.

If you are, or know, a young person struggling with any of a hundred serious issues that affect young people today, call. We’re here to help.

 – Posted by Anneille Ward, A.C.S.W., Youth Services Director

289-231-9554 –