Ask Tre: Professional Mental Health Care

By TRE STEPHENS

Dear Tre, 

Therapy scares me because I don’t want to be dependent on anyone, but I don’t want to burden my friends either. How do I make myself start seeking professional mental health care? 

-Anonymous

 

Dear Reader, 

Thank you for submitting your question to me! Mental health and wellness on Middlebury’s campus has proven to be a topic that many do not talk about. Why? Because we have not made the conversation of mental health a normalized topic on this campus, in our classrooms and in our culture. 

You said that “therapy scares me because I don’t want to be dependent on anyone.” I want to tell you that your feelings/fears are valid. How can someone expect you to just open up about your feelings to a stranger?

What will your friends think of you after? Will this make you feel better?  All the thoughts you are thinking are valid. You are valid. What I would encourage you to do is to find someone who you are really close to and ask them if you can share how you feel with them. I know it’s scary, and it’s probably something you don’t want to do, but I honestly think that the first step in seeking help is just asking. Also, don’t get me wrong, this could take days, weeks, months and even years to accomplish. I mean Rome wasn’t built in a day, so why should you be expected to open up to someone in five minutes? However, the first step in seeking help is to just ask. 

You also asked, “How do I make myself start seeking professional mental health care?” Well, you could start by admitting to yourself that you want to seek help. Unfortunately, I don’t think this is something you can force on yourself. You have to want to make things better for yourself or else it will not feel productive. I also recommend that while you are figuring things out about seeking help, you should practice self care. Self care can mean many different things, not just face masks and snacks. Self care could mean 30 minutes of silence to yourself a day, 15 minutes of extra sleep a day, or 10 minutes of journal writing while listening to soothing music to reflect on your day. Whatever works the best is what you should do. 

Now I will try to include my own experience, and I would like to remind readers that my experiences may not apply to all scenarios and that I am also learning and growing as I am giving advice as well. 

During my time at Midd I have struggled with my own mental health time and time again because I thought that struggling with mental health automatically assumes that “something is wrong with me.” I went to Parton’s counseling center, and while the people there are really nice, they’re sometimes not that helpful. With a counseling center that only has about 9 people staffing the office, it’s hard to meet the needs of 2,561 students. I’m not dragging Parton for its lack of staff; I’m dragging Middlebury for its lack of awareness when it comes to the mental health of its students. We need to do better! I recommend that all students use the Parton counseling service because you don’t have to be struggling with your mental health to use the service. Parton is here to offer resources for us and we should use them! 

To my reader I recommend a few things for you to do: 

Have a good conversation with yourself, and ask yourself what is it that you in particular want to work on? How do you you want to heal and what do you hope to gain from seeking counseling services?

Start to practice self care however you see fit. If you feel you need help with this and want to reach out to someone who will understand, I am more than willing to help. 

Find a close friend that you feel comfortable sharing your story with. 

Take advantage of the counseling services on campus and the after hours counseling services; I have included their numbers below.

802-443-5141 (Parton Counseling)

802-443-5141 (After-Hours Counseling)

Be honest with yourself through this process. No one is cured overnight; it takes time and patience to grow and get better. Take a deep breathe and just take things one step at a time.

As always I would like to thank my readers for viewing my column and please keep submitting your questions because there may be someone who has the same question as you!

Love, 

Tre