Counseling is step one in mental health illnesses by: Maya Douglas

The National Alliance of Mental Illness and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

are calling all advocates of mental health, mental healthcare professionals, attempt

survivors, loved ones of suicide victims, all members of any other communities to rally

together to promote mental health, remove the stigma from mental illness, and

ultimately prevent suicide especially during September, which is the National Suicide

Prevention Month.

Mental health illness is something that affects more people than most can imagine.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the tenth leading

cause for death in the United States is suicide. About 44,769 Americans die from

suicide every year. The AFSP also states that for every suicide, 25 others make an


One of the most common methods of treating a mental illness is psychotherapy, more

commonly referred to as counseling – but how effective can counseling really be if

suicide rates remain at an alarmingly high rate? Some say talking about an issue does

not help, change or resolve it, and I absolutely agree. Simply talking about something as

difficult as mental health does not help to completely resolve any problem, but it does

allow the healing process to begin.

Jazmin Barnes, junior, said, “The counseling service I received (on campus) is great.

So is my counselor. I would say the effectiveness depends on the person and who’s

counseling them, but for me it was effective. I felt like (my counselor) understood where

I was coming from, and it was a judgement-free zone. She made me view myself from a

different perspective.”

Unfortunately, not everyone is successful in finding his or her ideal counselor his or

her first time going to counseling. Some may have to go through a long list of

counselors before they find the right one, or it may take a number of sessions together

to build a rapport with a counselor. Every person and situation are different, and

counseling is not one-size- fits-all. The process can be laboring on anyone who is

already going through mental strain, but it is important to be open and consistent in

one’s efforts to see a real change.

That being said, counseling, will not instantly solve anyone’s problems, but it will open

the opportunity to express oneself and gain the tools needed to deal with the current

issues at hand and face future problems head-on. Often times, it is going to take more

than one session to acquire a personalized set of problem-solving skills. Also, gaining

those skills does not mean that a person is always going to be able to handle every

issue they acquire on their own. There are skilled mental health professionals that go to

counseling! A lot of the times people deal with things alone and don’t know where to


turn or how to even begin to deal with what they are going through. Even if they just go

to one session, they can at least have a starting point and some sense of direction as

they take steps in dealing with their issues. Sometimes counseling alone may not

resolve a person’s issue. That does not mean it is ineffective. It just means there is

additional work to be done. Counseling is effective when everyone involved goes into it

with a positive attitude about the outcome. Talking is the first step to healing!