People who have physical illnesses usually recognize something doesn’t feel quite right and seek professional care to treat their symptoms and help them to feel better. But when mental health challenges set in, it’s not unusual for people to ignore their symptoms and to avoid seeking treatment.
There are many different types of mental illness, and some of them lead to crippling disability and an inability to function in day-to-day life. When a person’s life spirals out of control or stops making sense, treatment can make a big difference, but only if that person seeks help. What stops people from trying to get the help they need for mental health problems?
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Society still attaches stigma to mental illness. People may believe that if they are labeled “crazy” or deemed to be mentally deficient, it may impact their career or the way others perceive them. This is probably the biggest barrier people face when they start to realize they need help.
Unfortunately, if people talk about going to therapy or support groups, or if they tell others that they take medication to treat mental illness, others may act like the person has some type of weakness of character. Many people believe that everyone should be able to overcome mental health challenges with willpower.
Lack of Awareness
Not everyone who has a mental illness is aware that they have this problem. Though they may struggle with extreme sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, confusion, delusion or many other symptoms, they may not be aware of what is causing them to experience these symptoms.
Those who are struggling with severe conditions such as schizophrenia may feel very strongly that there is nothing wrong with them. Whenever someone believes there is nothing wrong, they have no motivation to try to get help.
Lack of Support from Loved Ones
Well-meaning family members or friends may be quick to tell a person who has a mental health condition that they are fine. Loved ones might insist that it’s just a phase and that the problem will probably go away in time.
When loved ones tell a person with mental illness that there is nothing to worry about, the person is likely to question their own desire to get help or their own belief that there might be a problem.
Fear and Distrust
Awareness that there might be a problem is the first step, but it’s not the only step. Reaching out takes courage, whether one reaches out to a family doctor, a counselor or another supportive person in their life. Trying to talk to a stranger may be especially intimidating, and the person may not trust in a therapist’s ability to help.
For a person who is experiencing severe symptoms, the thought of going on medication is also frightening. They may be afraid of how the medication will make them feel, especially if there could be unpleasant side effects.
A person who is out of work, uninsured or underinsured may not attempt to get mental health treatment because they feel they can’t afford it. Without coverage, therapy and medication can be costly, but there are some options where a person might be able to receive help, such as a community mental health center.
There are several types of support groups that don’t require payment. It may also be possible to obtain treatment on a sliding scale.
It’s important for anyone who thinks they may have a mental health condition to obtain evaluation and treatment. Many mental health conditions will worsen if not treated properly, which may lead to self-destructive behavior up to and including suicide. Symptoms of mental health problems should not be ignored, because most likely they are not going to go away.
If you or a loved one could benefit from mental health treatment, call us at (855) 409-0204 or fill out the form below for more information about our treatment programs.