Those images are often very negative but also very far from what participating in counseling is actually like. Commercials or TV shows often depict mental health professionals as eccentric, deranged, or aloof and uncaring themselves. TV also depicts people who seek services as "crazy" and none of this is the actual truth. The recent new Popeye's chicken sandwich commercial even got in on the deprecating therapy action!
While mental health services help people who have existing mental health diagnoses such as Bipolar Disorder and PTSD, counseling can also be useful to people who are simply experiencing life transitions such as moving, going to college or becoming an empty nester. Therapy can also be appropriate for people who have experienced the loss of a loved one, a relationship conflict, or even work stress.
Sometimes I wonder if people would feel more comfortable seeking services if counseling were called something else. Maybe it could just be called support because essentially that's what counseling is-additional support to assist people with life's challenges. As a Therapist, it bothers me that society considers it okay for people to get tutoring when they need help with math but it's not as socially acceptable for people to get help for their spirit, emotions, or mind.
In addition, a person hesitating to get help can compound the issues and stress the person is experiencing making things that much more difficult when he or she actually goes to therapy. Further, people who don't seek help when they need it can end up having health and medical issues as a consequence or even start having suicidal ideations.