I Started Therapy: Why Other Young People Should Too

I have virtual therapy sessions every other week. I log in and wait for my therapist to join.

I have virtual therapy sessions every other week. I log in and wait for my therapist to join.

I nervously typed in my login information to the Telehealth website. Virtual or in-person, meeting with any doctor made my heart pound and my hands sweat. This time though, I wasn’t going in for a sore throat or an ear infection. Instead, I saw a therapist from my bedroom.

Since I was a young child, I felt that I had too many thoughts. They circled around in my head day and night without giving my child brain a break. They became more powerful and intense, eventually crippling me from doing activities that I otherwise would enjoy. After being diagnosed by a professional, I now know that I have an anxiety disorder.

This confirmed what I had felt all along. It made me feel validated and seen. This is something that I don’t know would be possible if I hadn’t started therapy. After my own experience, I encourage more students to seek therapy and gain clarity like I did. 

Since starting therapy, I’ve also developed healthy coping skills. When I’m feeling anxious, my therapist guides me through specific ways of challenging it. She reminds me to consider reality instead of jumping to the worst possible outcome and assuming that it’s the truth. When I can’t meet with my therapist, I fill out worksheets that align with this kind of positive thinking and they are extremely helpful. I feel clear-headed and more capable of my responsibilities. 

As a member of Generation Z, I see how afflicted our mental states are. According to the Pew Research Center, 70% of American teens state that depression and anxiety are significant problems among their peers. Additionally, only 45% of teens say that their mental health is “good,” which is an amount 11% lower than the previous generation of millennials. However, Gen Z is more likely to seek counseling and therapy for depression and anxiety, with 37% of teens reporting seeing a psychologist – more than any other generation. Despite the chronic stress we have from all of the information in the world at our fingertips, I’m proud that we are opening the discussion around mental health. 

Still, there is a huge problem concerning the stigma surrounding mental health services, especially in Black and Latino communities. University of Texas at Austin researchers found that white girls and boys were more knowledgeable about mental illness than their Black and Latino peers. The researchers ultimately concluded that this stigma and lack of knowledge impairs their coping abilities and emphasizes shame around mental illness and seeking help. When Black and Latino youths do find help, they struggle to find professionals that understand their cultural backgrounds. I believe in the effects of therapy, but we cannot have therapists who don’t understand their clients; hiring and supporting diverse mental health professionals is crucial in helping Black and Latino teens.

Having access to therapy is a privilege that I am beyond grateful to have. I contacted my primary care physician who referred me to my therapist, and this is how a lot of other people begin therapy. However, there are other ways to find help. If you have friends or family who have therapists, psychologists recommend contacting them and asking for recommendations. There are also online resources like MentalHealth.gov and the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) that locate community clinics that provide different mental health services for little to no cost. 

I wave goodbye to my therapist before logging out of our session, feeling like I can conquer the week ahead. While it did take time to feel fully comfortable being so open, learning more about myself motivates me to continue with my therapist, even if it’s difficult at times. My positive experience showed me that it’s possible to take control of my thoughts, and I believe that other students who feel anxious or depressed should try the same. We must end the stigma around mental health; it is only then that we can grow as a generation of change-makers. 


Locate Resources:

NAMI Howard County – https://namihowardcounty.org/

MentalHealth.gov – https://www.mentalhealth.gov/get-help