Depression and other mental health problems impact the lives of millions of people around the United States. The cost to the American economy from lost productivity and health care costs due to problems with depression is around $80 billion annually. In 2012, roughly 16 million adults around the nation had at least one major depressive episode. That translates to about 7% of the population. At least half of all people in the country who suffer from depression never seek out treatment. That is unfortunate but it is very treatable. Many people find mental health help through individual talk therapy and through group therapy. Some people balk at the idea of going to group therapy but it can be very helpful.
- It can be more cost-effective. Some insurance carriers still make it hard for their customers to get help from different types of psychotherapy. For people whose insurance balks at paying for or refuses to pay all together for individual psychotherapy services, group therapy can be a good alternative. It is often a lot less expensive than individual sessions with a psychotherapist. For people who do not have access to government health programs, going to group therapy can be the best thing they can do for their mental health.
- It can show people they do not have to go through their problems alone. Mental illness can be a very isolating thing to experience. Unlike physical diseases, which are often easier to talk about, when a person has a mental illness, they may be embarrassed to talk about it or even admit it. This is because of the stigma that is often attached to these issues. When people go to group therapy sessions, they can see that not only are they not the only people suffering from mental illness but they do not have to go through it by themselves. This can be very beneficial to people.
- Group therapy can help people learn to relate to others in a healthier manner. A lot of people who suffer from a mental illness spend a lot of time alone. For many people who suffer from anxiety or depression, their first response is to isolate themselves and that can lead to more depression and anxiety because they feel alone and lonely. When people are actively participating in group therapy sessions, it can help them relearn (or just learn) how to relate to and interact with other people in a way they may not have in a long time.
- These sessions can provide a safe space. Sessions with other people who are going through a similar problem can help people who have had a hard time sticking up for themselves, expressing their opinion, or just being honest about how they feel. Many people have been raised to always answer the question, “how are you?” with “fine” or “good.” Most people are not “fine” or “good” all of the time. On airplanes, they say you should put your own oxygen mask on before you put on someone else’s. Group therapy can help people see that by connecting with their own emotions, they can put themselves in a better position to help other people. These sessions are also great for giving people a safe space to talk about their fears, anger, sadness, and even to talk, sometimes for the first time, about traumatic situations and experiences they have had in their lives.
- Group therapy allows people to learn from each other. For the most part, the people who are all in a group therapy program are very different from each other. Seeing that people from different walks of life, who have had very different life experiences but yet all have some of the same problems can be very helpful. When people see how others dealt with the same issues they are dealing with, they can get ideas about what they can do to improve the quality of their own lives.
The link between mental health and physical well being has now been well documented. Untreated stress can lead to a host of problems, as can depression and anxiety. For people who are not sure where to turn or what to do, group therapy can be a big help in getting better.