2016 Counseling Awareness Month: Better Together with Counseling

April is counseling awareness month and the American Counseling Association (ACA) is working with more than 56,000 counselors to break stigma related to seeking mental health services. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that only 25 percent of adults with mental health issues believe that other people are sympathetic toward people who have mental illness, and that 57 percent of adults believe that people would be sympathetic toward people who have mental health issues. This is a clear indicator that we must educate the public about need for support and encouragement for people of all ages to seek assistance from counselors.

The theme of Counseling Awareness Month is “Better Together with Counseling” and emphasizes counselors’ unique ability to connect with people and encourage them to live fulfilling lives. It is important for people to understand that counselors can assist with all different kinds of life issues including serious mental health diagnoses, divorce, grief, transitions, family planning, bullying, career exploration, injury recovery, transition from high school to college, depression, relationships, sexuality, major life decisions, and much more. Counselors are specially trained to help people learn how to understand their unique circumstances and how to move toward life goals in individual ways.

ACA has several campaigns this month to encourage people to talk about counseling and the importance of acknowledging the impact others have made on their lives. ACA is encouraging people to change their social media profiles to the 2016 Counseling Awareness Month Better Together with Counseling image. In addition, people can participate through Impact Project, developed by ACA President Dr. Thelma Duffy, with the intention to publicly honor people who have had a positive impact on their lives. People often do not know the positive influence they have on each other — The Impact Project helps highlight the value we have with each other. Everyone is welcome to participate by uploading a photo or video to their social media sites with #KnowYourImpact and they can also post to The Impact Project Facebook Page.

Counselors help people learn about and develop mental health, which is defined by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion as a state of successful performance of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with other people, and the ability to adapt to change and to cope with challenges.” The goal of the DPHP is to improve our country’s overall mental health status, which includes decreases with the following issues within children and adults: suicides, eating disorders, and depression. The DPHP aims to reach its goal through interventions, including screenings and more access to mental health services.

Many people wonder what it is like to call a counselor and sit in the first session. We welcome all people who wish to gain insight into an array of topics and offer safe, nonjudgmental spaces for people to process their concerns. If you or someone you know would like to talk with a counselor, visit the American Counseling Association to find a counselor in your area.