At first thought, asking for help seems like an easy thing to do. If you can’t do something on your own, the obvious next step is to ask someone else for assistance. How hard can it be, right? When it comes to mental health, asking for help can be incredibly difficult.
However, the benefits of getting treatment for mental health far outweigh the challenge of overcoming the initial fear of seeking help.
Why Is It so Hard to Seek Treatment?
According to government statistics, nearly half of all youth ages 8 to 15 with a mental illness receive no treatment. Studies have been conducted to determine the reasons for this disparity, and there is no single answer.
Some reasons have to do with environment, economics and other overarching factors. In some cases, the mental disorder itself may create conditions that prevent the individual from seeking help. For adolescents, the following were identified as particular issues that made it hard to reach out:
- Stigma and Embarrassment. Negative and judgmental attitudes toward mental illness create shame and fear of being identified with the mentally ill.
- Difficulty Recognizing Symptoms. Some young people aren’t sure how to identify whether their problems are typical or if they indicate an underlying mental illness.
- Preference for Self-Reliance. During their developmental years, teens commonly begin asserting their own independence. This tendency may cause a preference for relying on themselves.
- Lack of Trust. From general awkwardness of sharing personal details to fears of exposure, distrust often becomes a barrier.
- Feelings of Hopelessness. Those especially burdened by their symptoms may have a perception of hopelessness that contributes to a diminished desire for help.
Benefits of Getting Treatment for Mental Health
Thankfully, identifying the benefits of treatment is easier than figuring out why it’s hard to ask for help. If you understand the how much you have to gain, you will be more inclined to seek help.
Depending on your specific situation, there will be particular advantages for getting treatment. But considering the overall benefits of mental health treatment is a great place to start:
- Improved quality of life. Imagine being free of the symptoms you’re currently facing. Without depression, anxiety, stress and other psychological problems to weigh you down, you can live your life to the fullest.
- Improved relationships. When your strength isn’t being sapped by the symptoms of the illness, you’re better able to develop and maintain healthy relationships, and you’ll have more time for the people in your life.
- Reduced chance for complications. Many people with mental illness unfortunately also develop substance addictions, but getting mental health treatment diminishes that possibility. Even if drugs or alcohol are already a problem, dual diagnosis treatment can help with both conditions.
- Better performance at school or work. Improved concentration, enhanced creativity, reduced absenteeism, increased productivity and better overall performance are all very real benefits of good mental health.
- Reduced risk for medical issues. Untreated mental illness contributes to physical problems like heart disease, ulcers and colitis and also reduces the strength of your immune system. Getting treatment decreases your potential need for certain medical services.
- Encouragement and Support. Individual therapy enables you to better understand yourself and your personal goals. Group therapy provides exposure to others with similar struggles, which can offer fresh perspectives on difficult problems. All of this gives you needed strength for continued recovery.
Tips for Asking for Help
Remember, there is nothing shameful about seeking help. Initially you may feel vulnerable and unsure, but asking for help is essential. Good mental health treatment will set you on a path of recovery that enables you to truly enjoy your life. Here are some basic tips to help you overcome your own reluctance to seeking assistance:
- Ask for help before frustration and anger take over. If you wait until the problems are severe, you may be too overwhelmed to ask for help.
- Leave behind feelings of weakness, shame and embarrassment. Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It’s actually the best and wisest strategy for success in overcoming your struggles.
- Talk to someone you trust. If you’re not sure where to start or are feeling intimidated about dealing with professionals, start with a friend or family member. They can point you in the right direction and work with you to find the best source of treatment.
- Be clear and direct when asking for help. If you’re not specific, others may completely miss your plea for help. Vague comments are easily missed or misunderstood, so be as precise as possible.
- Be as positive as you can. It’s understandable that negativity creeps in when you’re wrestling with real problems. But try to abstain from whining or complaining. Also be kind and gentle; avoid making demands or threats. Bad attitudes can turn people away just when you need them most.