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Stigma can hold some back from seeking mental health help

Posted at 6:00 AM, Oct 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-07 11:59:17-04

TULSA, Okla. — October is Mental Health Awareness Month.

Oklahoma ranks third in the nation for mental illness, according to the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

The agency also reports most Oklahomans don't receive the care they need to fully recover.

One thing that can hold some back from seeking help is the stigma some associate with mental illness.

Amy turner is a licensed professional counselor. She started Mindset Behavioral Health. It is a confidential counseling service offering in-person and online sessions with licensed therapists.

In this story sponsored by Mindset Behavioral Health, she told 2 Cares for the Community, “I think that whenever you don't understand what somebody is going through, it's really easy to be judgmental about it, so there is a lot of stigmas.”

Turner has seen first-hand the skepticism some have for mental health services and those who seek it.

"I even noticed like with my close friends, a lot of them don't believe in mental health care." She said, “I would like for people to know that it's okay to reach out for mental health help.”

Megan is married and a working mom with two young children.

She said, “it's not a deep, dark secret. I went and saw a therapist."

Leslie works from home and cares for her family.

Both women regularly see a therapist and are aware of the stigma some associate with mental health issues, or seeking therapy.

“It's viewed as a weakness.” Leslie said, “and if you seek out, you know, help, you're viewed as you know, you're not normal or something's wrong with you.”

“I’m not a broken person.” Instead, Megan said she seeks therapy because, “I need some tools to help me not be so stressed out, or so anxious, or depressed.”

Tools like breathing exercises she learned in therapy.

“Being able to take calming breaths and how that, you know my therapist explained, physiologically how that affects your body and your nervous system,” she said, “so when I’m in the middle of something, anxious, you know, something that is causing me anxiety, I can do the breathwork the way that she taught me how to do it, and it physiologically calms me, calms my nervous system, and helps me to stay present.”

She has also learned to compartmentalize to help reduce stress.

Megan has been in therapy off and on for years to help herself.

She joined Mindset Behavioral Health as its operations manager because of the benefits she finds in therapy.

In-patient treatment is right for some mental health issues, but Turner points out, “most people can do an out-patient therapy session, or do groups.”

Leslie and Megan have done individual therapy. Megan likes the non-judgmental experience of talking to a therapist one-on-one.

She said, “we all have stress in our lives. We all have various obstacles that come up, and having a therapist that you're established with, that you have that steady relationship with, it’s just so helpful having an unbiased person in your life.”

Both women have also gone to group therapy.

Leslie said, “I think there's so much comfort in group therapy because everybody there has experienced, whether it be trauma, whatever is going on, whether it be, it's some type of disorder, you can identify with every single person in your group therapy.”

Megan adds, “Therapy also looks different for everybody, you know some people see a therapist once a month or just on occasion some see a therapist, multiple times a week, and then there's a whole range in between.”

Perhaps the most important Turner stresses are that in order to seek mental health help, “You absolutely do not have to be in crisis.”

Turner suggests checking out the mental health resources on the Psychology Today website.

She adds, your physician can refer you to a mental health provider

You can contact also contact Mindset Behavioral Health, located at 5800 South Lewis, Suite 275 in Tulsa. Anyone can call or text (918) 691-1435, as well as email Mindset.BHS@gmail.com.

Watch the full story on 2 News Oklahoma on Tuesday at 6 p.m.


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