Despite increasing acceptance and public awareness, there is still a stigma associated with seeking help from mental health professionals. While mental health screening and treatment can dramatically improve someone’s quality of life, there is often still a very strong resistance to the idea.
People may be afraid that they are “crazy” or that others will look down on them for it. They may have an irrational fear that they will be locked up. The truth of the matter is that seeking professional help is a suitable course of action in many situations.
If you are resisting seeking mental health help, there are a few things that can help you move forward.
Figure Out Why You Are Reluctant
Some people can point to very specific things that teach them that they should not engage in seeking mental health help, but other people have only a strong and unconsidered resistance to the idea. If your mind automatically shies away from thinking about the possibility, ask yourself why. Are you afraid of how you will be seen? Are you concerned about the idea of being put on drugs that will affect you adversely? Once you figure out why you are averse to the idea, you can move forward.
Use Anonymous Help Lines
There are a number of anonymous help lines where trained counselors can help distressed people or suggest ways to handle mental health concerns. Though suicide hotlines are the best known, there are others which will help you understand mental health services and put you in touch with the organizations that you need. There is no pressure in calling an anonymous hotline, and you’ll find that it can make you much more inclined to talk about getting the help that you need.
Stop Using Pejorative Language
Many people afraid of seeking help for mental illness speak derogatorily about those who do. They use words such as “crazy,” “psycho,” or “loony bin.” Not only does this shame people who might be listening, it also creates a distance between themselves and something that could potentially help them. When you catch yourself calling yourself or someone else crazy, stop yourself. At the very least, it might clue you in to how you are behaving.
It can be hard to find a mental health professional who is suited to you. For example, if you are dealing with issues related to alternative lifestyles, sexuality or abuse, you want to make sure that you are dealing with a professional who is skilled in these matters. If your friends or family members regularly see a therapist, ask them for advice. If you feel as though you cannot talk to anyone who knows you, go online. Many people review their counselors on the Internet, and it can help you find someone who can help you.
Talk it out
Talk out your fears with a sympathetic friend. Find someone you know who is aware of issues like this, or at least someone you know will be understanding. Sometimes, it can be a good way for you to overcome your fears; others may be able to point out things that you miss. It also can be very freeing to talk to someone about something you may perceive as shameful or problematic. This is something that can give you the courage you need to move forward.