When to Ask for Help? 

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Why is it so hard to ask for help for mental health? Reaching out for mental health help is not easy.  Someone with a broken bone or the flu doesn’t usually hesitate to call their doctor. However, with mental health, this process is a little more complicated.

Here may be some reasons people don’t ask for mental health help:  People might feel that there is a lingering stigma attached to seeking mental health help.   Some people may fear they will be labeled “crazy” if they see a mental health professional, and worry it could impact their livelihood or reputation if anyone finds out.   People’s misconceptions of mental health may look like  “all in your head” or it’s a simple “attitude adjustment.” As well as,  if overcoming depression is as simple as “just” getting out of bed, or panic attacks can be cured by telling someone to “calm down.”

David Susman, a psychologist,  states on his blog that “Many people believe they are inadequate or a failure if they have to admit something is ‘wrong’ with their mental health.  Furthermore, they believe they ‘should be able to handle things’ on their own without assistance and that they must be weak or inferior to have to ask for help.”  As a result of this misperception or stigma societally and personally, statistically, nearly 60 percent of those with a mental illness don’t get treatment in a given year, leaving many to suffer when they don’t have to.

When To Seek Help?

People seek out help for a number of reasons, and you don’t need to wait until there’s a crisis to get support. It could be a little nagging feeling in the back of your mind when weighing a big decision, struggling with a relationship, noticing you feel more worried lately, feeling unhappy with your job, or even wanting to be a better version of yourself.  

“Sometimes the signs are obvious, but at other times, something may feel slightly off and you can’t figure out what it is,” relays Dr. David Sack in Psychology Today, regarding knowing when to seek help. “Contrary to popular misconception, you don’t have to be ‘crazy,’ desperate, or on the brink of a meltdown to go to therapy.”

Severe warning signs such as wanting to hurt yourself or feeling suicidal require immediate intervention, as well as serious and chronic symptoms of some mental illnesses; e.g. hallucinations, high levels of dissociation, or mania.  However, there are more subtle symptoms like losing interest in favorite pastimes, changes in sleep and eating habits, lack of motivation, or anxiety.  These are a few examples of an underlying sign that mental health treatment and support from a professional is necessary.  Awareness and understanding of how symptoms might be interfering in your life and daily functioning is key.  

Sources:  “How To Ask For Help With Mental Care” by Psychology Today 

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