Nearly half of Americans think going to therapy ‘is a sign of weakness’

NEW YORK — A new poll finds most people are not waiting around when they feel they need help. Eight in 10 Americans think it’s perfectly acceptable to see a therapist without an official diagnosis.

The recent survey of 2,002 U.S. respondents finds 67 percent felt more in touch with their emotions in 2021 compared to 2020, and continued therapy may be the cause. However, results also suggest that people continue to have mixed views on mental health care.

Is there still a stigma around therapy?

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Vida Health, the survey also found that 46 percent still think getting therapy is a sign of weakness. This mirrors the results of a similar survey conducted by OnePoll and Vida Health in 2020, in which 47 percent felt the same way — suggesting that attempts to break the stigma haven’t gotten very much traction.

therapyNearly half of Americans are more hesitant to receive virtual health care as their mental or physical health symptoms get more severe. Millennials were the most reluctant to seek virtual therapy as their symptoms progressed (70%), more than Gen X respondents (41%) and baby boomers (20%) combined. Eight in 10 add they’ve sought out or received more mental health treatment over the past year than they had before.

Two in five have either continued or started taking medication to treat their mental health symptoms. In addition to dealing with general stress (49%) and pandemic stress (46%), people are also frequently looking for help after starting or ending a romantic relationship (43%) or becoming a parent for the first time (36%).

“The ongoing pandemic has compounded with major life changes like starting a new job or becoming a parent, placing an even greater strain on mental health,” says Vida Health Chief Medical Officer Patrick Carroll, MD in a statement. “It’s encouraging that people continue to be open to seeking out therapy; however, the fact that the same number of people still stigmatize it a year later is cause for concern. We need to go beyond providing access to these essential services because as we have seen, people are still not taking action even when they have access to quality care.”

Tackling mental health

For 45 percent of Americans, 2022 presents an opportunity to focus equally on their mental and physical health. More than half the poll (54%) plan to continue or even increase the amount of time they spend in therapy this year, compared to only 29 percent who aim to decrease their visits.

Recognizing that mental and physical health are connected, 37 percent plan to eat healthier, while 36 percent will get more sleep and keep active or exercise regularly for their mental well-being.

“Although we still have a ways to go to destigmatize therapy, we’re glad to see people seeking different solutions to improving their mental well-being in the new year,” Carroll adds. “There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to mental health care, and it’s often a combination of activities that has the best impact on an individual.”

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