Like any (young) person stepping into adulthood during these turbulent times, mental health (or more like, worrying about my mental health) has always been top of mind for me – pardon the pun.
Even before Covid-19 hit and basically transformed ‘normal life’ as we knew it, it felt like there was an endless things to worry about: from the painfully personal, such as the existential quest of finding one’s purpose and direction in life, to larger concerns around the environment and climate change. And now, of course, after living in a pandemic for the past two years, there’s still the residual fear of a sudden resurgence or mutation of the virus; that feeling of still holding your breath, hardly daring to breathe, wondering is this really all over?
Sometimes, it feels like I’ve so many worries – both large and small – fluttering around within me, that it seems impossible for my body to contain them all.
And yet, despite having this ever-growing list of things that keep me up at night (because, honestly, doesn’t everyone have those kinds of nights, anyway?), I know I’ve been bullishly obstinate about speaking to someone.
Do I really need therapy?
Take a look through the news from the past year and it’s clear that mental health has soared up the list of priorities on the national agenda. Survey after survey show that stress levels are climbing amongst Singaporeans; employers are looking into creating better mental health structures and providing stronger support at workplaces. It’s clear that mental health is no longer a taboo topic, no longer something that invokes the bogeyman figure of Woodbridge Hospital.
Even then, for me, it feels like a big step to go for therapy. Or to be more representative of how my brain registers it: Going for Therapy.
Despite cognitively knowing that ‘therapy is for everyone and anyone can benefit from speaking to a trained mental health professional’, that ‘you don’t need to have a huge problem to see a counsellor’, there’s always this niggling voice at the back of my head saying: going to therapy just seems so overly dramatic for the tiny problems you have.
Sometimes, my worries keep my brain buzzing awake for one night – but that’s all it is, just one sleepless night. Is that enough justification to warrant getting professional help?
You don’t need to have a reason to see a therapist
The thing is, in healthcare, we always preach: prevention is better than cure. So, why shouldn’t we see a therapist if it helps prevent smaller issues from snowballing into something more unwieldy and unmanageable?
It’s a bit hypocritical to make such a statement when I, myself, haven’t adopted such a habit yet either. But, well, that’s an important mindset shift I need to embrace.
There isn’t any constructive outcome that can result from postponing worries until a later date, just because ‘it doesn’t seem that big of a deal yet’. Therapy can be powerful in unearthing these niggling fears and concerns and nipping them in the bud, before they can fester into something worse.
Starting small: finding support in other places
If you’re not ready to take the giant leap into therapy, there’s no need to force yourself to do so – at least, that’s what I tell myself. Instead, baby steps are what I’ve been starting with. Little things that make my mind a more friendly place; while building the courage to eventually make the plunge and sign up for an actual session.
Some little things I’ve been trying to do more often:
- Journaling my feelings & turning towards creative writing as an outlet
- Reading more affirmation-based content and articles
- Sharing my problems with my friends, even if they may seem small (the hazard of being an only child is keeping everything close to your chest)
- Going for a run or a swim if I feel my mood souring, just to shake off that excess negative energy
These things may not work for you, and that’s fine too!
Find activities that bring you joy and indulge in that happiness. The idea is to just be more intentional about your mental health and to feel more comfortable in engaging in activities explicitly geared towards creating a better mind space.
There are many resources to support you, when you’re ready to take the step
A secondary factor that makes therapy a less attractive idea is the impression that therapy would be expensive.
You may want to take a look through your insurance policy documents on whether mental health consultations are covered. Chances are, you may need a GP’s referral before arranging for your first therapy session to ensure it’s claimable. Although, if you’re anything like me, figuring out healthcare finances is always a headache and I end up procrastinating on it.
Thankfully, there are resources out there that you can tap on, if you need financial help with the cost of therapy. Firstly, there are free hotlines you can phone into, should you need to speak to someone. These include:
- Samaritans of Singapore: 1800 221 4444 (24-hour hotline)
- Institute of Mental Health: 65 6389 2222 (24-hour hotline)
- National Care Hotline: 1800 202 6868 (available 8am – 12am, daily)
These hotlines are manned either by qualified counsellors or trained volunteers, who are equipped with the skills to help you navigate your feelings.
For (free) counselling sessions, there are also organisations that have avenues that you can tap on.
- Silver Ribbon Singapore: Organises counselling sessions from Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm; where you can head down to their offices for a physical session.
- Singapore Association for Mental Health: Offers counselling sessions from Monday – Friday, 9am – 1pm and 2pm – 6pm; arrange for a session by calling 1800 283 7019.
Honestly, there are many more reasons why you should go for therapy than why you don’t need to (and when I say ‘you’, I mean ‘me’). While the journey towards better mental health is incredibly personal, having a certified professional to be there for you, to guide you along the way can be invaluable. Personally, I’m still building towards that – but if you’re ready to arrange your first counselling session, it’ll pay off wonderfully in the long-term.
You can reach out to the team at A Space Between, if you need help figuring out how to get started. They have an amazing client-matching service, to put you in contact with a therapist that would best serve your needs. Reach out anytime at [email protected].
I’m cheering for you!
An experienced health & wellness writer, I am a story-teller at heart. For me, writing is a way of weaving together the little details that make our existence meaningful and significant into a beautiful, larger story.