Why Free Mental Health Counseling Matters

Killian came to the MHA Counseling Center: Where Mental Health Matters in May 2023 during a period of despair. In their own words, Killian shares, “I could not, would not be here if it wasn’t for Mental Health America and the wonderful humans operating it on every level.”

In Killian’s words. . .

I’ve had many solo cries in my car. In January of 2023, I half-seriously considered veering my car in front of a semi truck on the highway, but could not bear the thought of harming anyone else in my grief. Though I have done so in many other, less physical ways.

Last night, 11 months later and 1,000 miles displaced, I cried all the way on my hour drive home from work. This time, with immense relief. I want to live. I want to drive carefully on the icy Maine roads. I will outlive my cat—not leave him in the vacuum of where I once was. I am in a much better and totally different place mentally and geographically; my cat snuggles with me every night and . . . I want to live. There is a future for me to have.

A year ago I was swallowed in some of the deepest despair of my life. 2020-2023 kicked the **** out of me. The pandemic, of course. I was broke all through grad school. I graduated in May 2021 and had to move back in with my parents because I had not secured a job. I was back in my childhood home where I had struggled so intensely as a teenager, in a town where I no longer knew anyone.

My best friend passed from suicide a few months later, and then just after New Year’s 2022, I had to put down my 4-year-old dog. I worked an extremely toxic and chaotic job for nine months in my childhood hometown, then moved to Charlotte and had an even more mentally corrosive job for six months. Just before my 27th birthday in 2023, I decided it would be ridiculous if I let a coffee shop job be what killed me—so I quit instead.

MHA was the only option for free therapy I found in May 2023. I was still living with my parents, but this time in Charlotte, another place where I knew no one. My home and work environments were extremely overstimulating, and I was burned out all the time. After I finally quit that job, Megan Bryant (MHA’s Clinical Director and Killian’s counselor), encouraged me to focus on myself for a while, as my parents could support me briefly. I ended up finding a farming apprenticeship in Maine, outside Portland, and moved up here in September. It’s only been a few months, but my mental health has improved so significantly it’s almost alarming.

I could not, would not be here if it wasn’t for Mental Health America and the wonderful humans operating it on every level. And I would not have had any mental health support at all were it not for the fact MHA could provide therapy at no cost to me.

One of the main reasons I was so severely depressed was due to financial reasons, and it’s no secret that medical care in the U.S. is unaffordable for a significant portion of the population. And it’s no secret that mental illness can make doing anything—much less a job—nearly impossible.

If it weren’t for MHA, I wouldn’t have received the therapy and guidance I desperately needed through the most difficult period of my life thus far. Mental wellness should not be a luxury, and those of us in financial despair often need mental health care the most. I’ve been broke for a long time, and I’m still broke, though happier. Now I have healthier work and home environments. I’m somewhere I can see the stars most nights. I wouldn’t have the fuzzy Milky Way arcing over my backyard were it not for the life-saving resource that is affordable therapy.

January 2023, I did not think I would see 2024. I did not want to see 2024. January 2023 I scored a 22 on that test that gauges your desire to die. November 2023 I scored a 3. I’ve unlocked the ability to happy-cry now. Thank you, thank you Megan. Thank you Mental Health America. I literally owe you my life. May you keep saving those of us who are brain-sick and broke, and may it set a better standard for the whole country.         

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