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Sunday, May 19
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

Mental health note

Increased visibility is one of the best ways to improve a social issue.

It is for this reason I encourage students, faculty and any random folks with excessive free time who read this column to be more open about mental health and therapy.

Obviously, you are by no means obliged to sing it from the mountaintops or put it on blast via social media. Your therapy is personal to you.

And you don’t necessarily have to explain yourself, either. If you’re working through your romantic feelings toward your roommate’s cat, good for you. But I also respect if you don’t want ?everyone to know about that.

Sharing that you’re in therapy even without the reason would do so much good for turning around our culture’s continued struggle with the stigma of mental ?illness.

If you’re currently in therapy, you know there are times when you censor that fact. You’re talking to a friend and they say something that reminds you of that most recent visit you had with that person who helps you become a better, more balanced individual. Someone asks what all you have going on today and you decide to leave out the part where you’re making a ?positive decision for your health.

Those would be perfect opportunities to casually state a simple and acceptable truth.

There are likely three big reasons why people are apprehensive about speaking openly about their therapy and mental health in general.

One, you don’t want to seem weak. I’m not going to go in depth with this one. I could write a semester-long column series about our cultural fear of vulnerability. My semi-unhelpful and oversimplified response is to ?knock it off.

Two, you are worried that if you say you’re in therapy, you’ll be obliged to say why and don’t want to because of the reason above. Someone might press to know, but will probably back down if you tell them you’d rather not say. I doubt anyone would take your family hostage until you say why you’re in therapy. However, if a person ever does do that, they would especially benefit from a candid conversation about ?mental health care.

Three, you worry others will think your seeing a therapist will be translated to your being loony. This also stems from reason one — seriously, we hate seeming weak to people — but also from the lack of casual discourse about mental health. It’s a cycle. Someone may have archaic notions about mental health and overreact. Set them straight. Or let that person think shock therapy is still all the rage.

It’s time for a weird but charming and effective ?analogy.

If no one talked about pooping, you would reasonably start to secretly wonder if there was something ?seriously wrong with you.

Fortunately, we as a culture have found a balance between making poop a personal but still publicly integrated aspect of life. Our houses have bathrooms, as do our restaurants and workplaces. Pretty much every building does. It’s actually weird when a place doesn’t have a bathroom.

I wish the following could be in all-caps for emphasis and to catch the eyes of stray readers, but it would be grossly inconsistent with our style guide.

Everyone would deeply benefit from having a therapist and should see one if possible.

And when you do, feel free to talk about it with the ?people in your life.

Inspirational poop pun, anyone?

It’s not your duty, but it’s something similar.

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