Seeking Psychiatric Help: Debunking Common Misconceptions

Ladies and gentlemen, I have thought it time to discuss a much overlooked topic.

Considering everything that’s been happening in Philippine history and the way common Pinoys tend to react in the worst way possible, I think it’s time to re-evaluate the things that we accept and take as facts. To truly understand the mind of the average Filipino and find a solution for his problems, we need to evaluate his psyche and identify the cause of all his issues. Unfortunately, due to various social stigmas, we almost always come to the wrong conclusions and make the problem worse than it already is.

That’s right, to this day, the idea of seeking “professional help” is anathema to most Filipinos because there’s the implication that one is weak or mentally unsound if they ever seek help from a counselor or psychiatrist. In the end, by choosing to ignore one’s mental imbalances, one just adds insult to their psychological injuries, leading to further problems and, at worst, eventual insanity.

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mental_healthLook, to make things short, as a country, I think the Philippines is insane. From the way we’re beholden to celebrities and vote them into office to the way we engage in self-destructive behavior we insist as “culture”, I have long felt that the country is just one big nuthouse. Now wait, before you say I’m being conceited, I can also admit that I am not a balanced individual either.

Anyway, my point here is that a lot of us probably need help from professionals if we want to get over our issues. Unfortunately, due to the way that professional help is stigmatized by media (especially teleseryes that don’t even understand proper medical and psychological protocols) and by local superstitions, many of us are discouraged to even look for help. At the end of the day, we just deny our issues and, by doing so, allow them to fester and rot in our minds until we go insane over them.

Here are some of the most common misconceptions about seeking help and how they are, essentially, wrong:

If I Seek Help, Everyone Will Think I’m Crazy

Okay, there is some truth to this considering how heavily stigmatized seeking psychiatric help is. However, if you can be discreet about it, you probably won’t have much of a problem. Besides, counselors and psychiatrists can keep your appointments confidential if you ask them to and it’s all just a matter of your keeping your own mouth shut about the issue.

Look, when you visit a psychiatrist, it’s not just simply a matter of the psychiatrist standing up and declaring you’re insane. They will evaluate your condition first before making any kind of conclusion, as is often the case with just about any kind of medical procedure. And even then, after you’ve been fully evaluated, the psychiatrist will simply try to consider what action to take for your best interest.

A psychiatrist isn’t suppose to judge, remember that. They’re just there to find out what you’re problem is and give you suggestions on how you can best remedy it.

If I Seek Help, They’ll Throw Me Into The Mental Hospital

A fairly common misconception. Unless, you’re dangerous to others or yourself, a psychiatrist or counselor isn’t going to do any such thing. Besides, this kind of thinking is far outdated and modern, professional psychology and psychiatry are about evaluating the condition of the client, not declaring them insane off the bat and getting them committed to a mental hospital.

In fact, one can note that a counselor and psychiatrist’s job is to prevent the client from being required to go to a hospital. Their job is essentially to identify the problem as early as possible and find a means to treat it. That way, it prevents the issues from either becoming a lifetime trait (which will do hell for your social life, believe me) or worsen into insanity.

So, if you think that going to a psychiatrist will eventually lead you to going to a mental hospital, think again. They’re probably the only people who can actually keep you from being locked-up in a padded cell where you start believing that you’re Michael Jackson

If I Seek Help, I’ll Go Crazy Even Faster

Probably one of the worst offenders of the whole bunch. The thing is, you’re seeking professional help to identify the problem and prevent it from getting worse. Saying that going to a psychiatrist will make you even crazier faster is probably the most absurd statement I’ve ever heard from anyone.

If this is the case, then tell me, why are psychiatrists some of the most well-paid professionals out there? If this is the case, why do successful companies consult professional psychologists for their advertising campaigns? If this is the case, why is it that so many of the celebrities many Filipinos are beholden to consult them anyway and advertise their status to the masses?

According to a few observations, we Filipinos aren’t the only people with this stigmatized view of seeking help. It seems other third-world countries also suffer from this kind of mindset.

Just so you know, I’m only speaking from experience. Early in 2014, before I became a writer here in GRP, I was a troubled individual with no sense of direction. I was depressed, suicidal and possibly even dangerous.

But after finding the right kind of help for my troubles, I found my footing and have walked on ever since towards self-improvement. I can’t say I’m completely happy and, as some people might note, I still have quite a few problems every now and again. However, I no longer feel powerless and even the worst of my worries turn out to be solvable problems in the end.

So look, despite what the media and local gossip might say, professional counseling has come a long way in helping people with their mental imbalances. Don’t be afraid to seek out professional help when you feel suicidal or when you think you can’t take it anymore.

As my counselor and later employer likes to say:

“Denial and delusion are the first steps toward madness.”

10 Replies to “Seeking Psychiatric Help: Debunking Common Misconceptions”

  1. Yes. You’re very right in Filipinos’ misconception of psychiatry. Seeking psychiatric help is the most helpful way of making a Filipino aware of his/herself. From there, the psychiatist or counsellor will help the person debunk and analyze his or her behavior and/or attitude as well as the environment he/she belongs with and the consequences of his/her behavior. Psychiatry/psychology helps a person see his/her reql self and from there, he/she learns,about different types of personality, behavior, and how the human mind works as well as its disorders (i.e. depression) and how they are managed.

    Unfortunately, Filipinos’ ignorance demonize psychiatry and instead rely right away on fatalism and superstition. When a person has bipolar disorder and is under manic episode, people around him usually call him ‘possessed by the devil’ and not having psychological problems. They don’t believe in psychiatry because they think psychiatrists will make them crazier.

    Who is to blame for the Filipinos’ discrimination against psychiatry? First, the Roman church. Since European enlightenment on psychiatry, the Church did block new knowledge of psychiatry to the Filipinos and instead.insisted them that psychiatric illnesses are possessions by the devil. Although today Roman priests do counsel people using psychology, the damage inflicted by the church itself has not been undone to the people.

    Second to blame is the government. Although ther are mental institutions like NCMH, there is much lacking of psychiatrists at health centers that can offer free counselling to the masses. So does mass education about psychiatry in public schools except if you get psych courses at colleges.

    Last to blame and also the most influential factor in shaping Filipinos’ minds is of course the media where the antagonists of teleseryes usually end up mentally ill as their ‘karma’ or the protagonists are mistakenly crazy and trapped into mental hospitals by their villains and are often mistreated by evil psychiatrists.

    All of these reasons stated above causes most Filipinos to avoid seeking psychiatric help as possible to avoid being labeled as ‘posessed’ or ‘evil.’ It seems that only a minority really knows that psychiatry is actually helpful in managing mental health.

    Unless we open our minds about the help of psychiatry, we will continue in make-believing that people with mental problems are ‘possessed by the devil.’

  2. I was diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder when I was 13 years old. Had a few relapses until I was 18 and it never bothered me anymore. There’s no cure for OCD other than proper management. I also experienced some form of stigmas when I tried to open up to my friends before I was diagnosed. They thought I was experimenting on drugs and shit. I believe that most Pinoys ignorance is more embarrasing than someone who’s labeled a “neurotic”. Lots of points here are true in which I can relate to and have experienced.

  3. One precondition for seeking help is finding ways to be open and honest with oneself – something many of us Filipinos do NOT have.

    Nietzsche wrote that getting to know oneself can be the road to hell and that is very true.

    What forms of help can be appropriate depends on the person and situation – modern methods like behaviourism seem more promising than psychoanalysis, which often does not help and some doctors do foster dependency to earn…

    Germany had its postwar group therapy with a lot of Zeitzeugen = witnesses of the times – speaking up one by one. It did help finally, the openness about the Irrweg = wrong path the nation of poets and thinkers went led to a new nation that is more open than the USA.

    A lot of hangups the Philippines has now can be traced to a lack of true openness about the issues of the past years, that stuff is still there in the back of peoples heads and causes irrational reactions by many people. Well maybe it’s just me and my delusions. 🙂

  4. Mental Illness can kill you. This is the reason, you have to seek, professional medical help, when you feel mentally ill.

    We still don’t understand much about mental illness. It is because, you cannot open up the brain of a living person, and put it back, after studying it. We only know 10% , about the brain and mind.

    However, Scientists have found the Chemical imbalance of the body chemicals in your brain and stomach, can cause mental illness. One of these chemicals is: Serotonin. Yet, there are hundreds more of these chemicals to be discovered.

    We only know about the tie up of the brain and mind, thru these Theories.

    The great German PsycoAnalyst , Carl Jung. Theorized about the Collective Unconsciousness. The Consciousness, Subconsciousness, and lately the SuperConsciousness.

    Before there were: Id, Ego and SuperEgo. Theorized by Freud.

    The Brain and the Mind are very complicated machines in our body.

    Seek help when needed…we have modern medicines to heal Depression and Mental Illness. Mental Illnesss is like other illness. Like diabetes, TB, VD, etc…do not be hesitate, to seek professional help.

  5. Do not be hesitant to seek medical and Psychiatrist help. A good Psychologist can counsel you also. Avail the help of these professionals.

  6. The problem is real crazy people don’t think they’re crazy. Narcissists (politicians, celebrities, the church) and Sociopaths don’t seek treatment.

  7. Seeking help is a social suicide in the Philippines. Which is why so many hesitate to be corrected.

    And dealing with stupidity in the country can wear outs ones soul.

    Which is why websites such as this and Philippine fail blog are such great help. It’s great to know that there are other people out there who have the same experiences and share the same opinion as you: there is something wrong with our country and culture.

  8. “If I Seek Help, I’ll Go Crazy Even Faster”

    This is the first time I’ve read or heard this concept in my entire life.

    But anyways, in this country, a person with mental illness is being ostracized and usually a person who has this would either be in denial or hide it from their family and friends. They would only admit it (or use as alibi) when they are in court in cases like murder, rape, annulment etc.

  9. “If I seek Help, then it means I’m not credible” is still another myth some people hold. If a crazy person says the blue sky is blue while a sane person says the blue sky is pink, the sane person is still stupid. As the joke goes, I may be crazy, but I’m not stupid.

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