BLOG/MENTAL HEALTH | therapy shouldn’t be a luxury

[image description: fresh red, white, and pink roses in a white mug with text saying "therapy shouldn't be a luxury" written on it, on black fabric background]
[image description: fresh red, white, and pink roses in a white mug with text saying “therapy shouldn’t be a luxury” written on it, on black fabric background]

[CW: mental illness]

“therapy shouldn’t be a luxury” has become somewhat of a signature quote of mine—i mean, i even sell t-shirts with it—, but i’ve realized i’ve never fully explained what i really mean by saying it. let me fix that now!

again, as pretty much everything i write about, this stems from my personal experience. very simply put, with this quote i express my anger at therapy not being available to everyone regardless of their insurance, income, or class/race/gender/sexuality.

first of all, most therapy is basically a luxurious product for sale to only those with high income. you know, somewhere along the lines of golf club membership and shopping exclusively at bio supermarkets. of course, services like free/cheap(er) therapy and counselling exist for those “in need,” and this sounds real great in theory, but doesn’t work that smoothly in reality – they are not available to most, and how do you define who really is “in need”? often, you don’t even know it yourself how much “in need” you are, right? there’s usually a long waiting list for these services and often they are time-limited, which makes a lot of folks not even try to pursue them.

then we have stigma attached to going to therapy, which definitely still prevails, despite the mental health debate steadily becoming more and more common and open. i’ve read a lot of materials that came to the conclusion that this stigma was even higher amongst POC communities, and the way “traditional”/“mainstream” therapy is conducted and designed indeed is very white-centred.

the anger about this situation also comes from the fact that in the Czech Republic, the country i am from, psychiatric help and antidepressants are free (with insurance), but not therapy. of course, i am immensely grateful that at least this is an accessible option, but, despite what a lot of people’s conception might be (and mine sure used to be), antidepressants will not magically cure your mental illness(es) overnight. visiting the psychiatrist is nowhere near therapy, i rarely spend there more than 15 minutes, seeing the doctor every 3 months to check in whether my meds work for me and get a new prescription. i am not trying to say that psychiatry is completely worthless, not at all—finally getting diagnosed and being given antidepressants was such a major turning point for me—, but it is not enough. meds won’t help you unlearn your (self-)destructive behavior, they won’t make your insecurities vanish, they won’t make you a better partner or friend or worker. that’s what you do in therapy, or counselling, call it whatever you like.

to put it this way: therapy is great. therapy is like a crash course on how to be a better person. therapy is healing and revolutionary. this might seem a bit too radical or utopian, but i think that therapy is necessary if we want to create better connections and relationships amongst the people on this planet (however cheesy and new age that sounds). if we see therapy as a space to address your harmful or problematic behaviors and to actively try and rework them, this means it works towards making people better – and isn’t that what we, as a collective mass of mutually caring citizens (lol i’m literally cringing at this phrasing now, but can’t come up with anything better), should strive for?

why should only a lucky few get access to such important tool that not only benefits the person on their own, but everyone around?
why should only a lucky few get the chance to change, overcome their issues, and live a more satisfying life?
why should those who already face the most discrimination, oppression, violence, the worst working conditions and much more, be quite outright banned from a resource that can help them deal with all this?

i cannot find a single reasonable answer to any of these questions, and that’s why i say: therapy shouldn’t be a luxury.