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Normalizing Therapy Among Millennials and Gen-Z

By: Brianna Lopez

In the last decade, people have increasingly educated themselves about the importance of mental health. Such topics have also been a huge part of conversation at Barry University. 

The Buccaneer previously discussed the phenomenon of mental health days. The increasing awareness of mental health has led to a discussion about therapy as a remedy.

Traditionally, millennials and Generation Zers tend to stigmatize therapy because of the belief that attending sessions makes one weak. Such a stigma leads to a fear of seeking help and more people battling mental illness alone. 

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According to English magazine The Psychologist when it comes to the stigma of attending therapy sessions “simply seeking professional psychological help appears to carry its own mark of disgrace.”

Essentially, the fear of disgrace discourages people from seeking the help they need. However, many millennials and Gen-Z'ers are beginning to think of it differently. 

For Barry sophomore biology major Heaven Laster-Torres, seeking help is anything but disgraceful. 

“I believe people who attend therapy are emotionally mature, or they are trying to achieve that maturity,” said Laster-Torres. 

Sophomore pre-law major Monika Herrera agrees.

“Stigmas like this one exist to single out people. It’s a way of keeping people beneath you,” said Herrera, who attends therapy every other week as an outlet for her emotions and stress. 

Nonetheless, therapy still feels weird for many. People often project the possible emotions others might feel about them attending therapy on themselves, which can lead to embarrassment. 

This concept is called self-stigma and is described as an internal feeling where a person labels his or herself as unacceptable because they have a mental health concern. 

David Vogel and Nathanial Wade, professors at Iowa State University, concluded that people viewed psychological help as threat to self-confidence and esteem in an article published with The Psychologist. They hypothesized that feelings like those would make it difficult for people to seek help. 

People fear what others might think.  Both Laster-Torres and Herrera believe that fear is definitely a huge barrier to seeking therapy. 

Many people were raised to not express their feelings to not appear weak,” said Laster-Torres.

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Herrera seconds this, adding that a huge part of the problem surrounds men expressing their feelings. 

“It goes back to the stereotypes we have for boys and girls and the social construct of gender,” said Herrera. 

While the stigma is still present, with the increase of mental health awareness comes a responsibility of millennials and Generation-Zers to change the stigma. 

Laster-Torres and Herrera shared ways in which they think this is possible. 

“I truly believe that the best way people can alleviate the discomfort surrounding attending therapy would be for them to try it themselves,” said Laster-Torres. 

Herrera agrees, adding that it should start with being normalized in schools. 

“Making it a requirement to attend at least one therapy session could help people see what therapy is really like,” said Herrera. 

The solution to this stigma is still up for debate. Still, anyone can help change the stigma surrounding attending therapy. 

One place to start is with an organization called Normalize Therapy, whose goal is to get people to sign their petition to help people understand that attending therapy is normal.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from mental illness, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration Services (SAMHSA) is available at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). 

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