Encouraging Someone To Seek Help

How to Encourage Someone to Seek Help

Approximately 1 in 4 adults between the ages of 18 to 24 in developed countries suffer from a mental health disorder. Depression (12.8%) and anxiety (28.2%) are the two most common mental health conditions. The vast majority of mental health difficulties begin during young adulthood, but surprisingly individuals in this age group are the least likely to seek help for mental distress. Many of us feel comfortable asking for help with chores or a favor, but don’t feel the same way when it comes to mental health. Maybe it’s because we prefer to remain independent or preserve a sense of privacy, or perhaps it’s related to feeling shy or fearing rejection. In some cases, the reason could be more profound: we feel a sense of shame or stigma for needing help and this prevents us from starting a healing journey.

Complicating matters is the inability many of us have to recognize our symptoms. Data shows that over a third of young American adults with clinical levels of psychopathology view their issues as minor, and think their symptoms will go away on their own. Part of the reason for this outlook is a combination of low emotional maturity and mental health awareness, resulting in a failure to recognize the severity of their issues.

Unfortunately, many people who avoid help for mental disorders or emotional pain may turn to alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism. Sometimes those who actively avoid seeking or accepting professional help do so because of cultural or belief-based attitudes. The experience of anxiety and depression raises the risk of negative self-evaluation and significantly impacts school, work, and social lives. Research shows that suicide prevalence is highest in the 20 to 24 years age group, the same category with the highest rates of mental health disorders. 

Additionally, many people might be conflicted about asking for help because they feel inadequate, insecure, or are worried that they’ll be viewed as weak or fear being seen incompetent. The reasons behind these assumptions are numerous and include stigmatization around mental health issues. Public stigma arises out of negative conceptions regarding asking for help. Even today, it’s not uncommon to encounter people who associate psychotherapy with labels and stereotypes such as sick, lazy or crazy. Research demonstrates that illness and disorders are linked to neurobiology, yet some people continue to think that anyone who participates in psychotherapy is weak and maybe even dangerous. Some individuals keep their issues locked inside because they don’t want to burden their families, and fear that professionals won’t take them seriously.

On the other hand, it’s possible to inflict stigma upon ourselves. Self-stigma occurs when we devalue ourselves. Oftentimes self-stigma arises as a result of internalizing other people’s negative beliefs. As is the case with public stigmatization, self-stigma results in labeling or judging ourselves as being weak or damaged for seeking help. From an outside perspective, it’s very difficult to watch a loved one struggle with mental health issues. The pain we feel is intensified if they are reluctant to seek help, but there are a few things you can do to reach out no matter what stage they’re in.

First of all, listening to your friend or loved one may not seem as if we’re offering help, but it can be very cathartic for someone in distress. If your friend is resistant to talking about what they’re dealing with, be supportive by letting them know you’re there to listen whenever they’re ready. Regardless of how open to communication your friend is, you can always let them know that you’re concerned about their circumstances. Express your understanding about their reluctance to seek professional help, but say that you’ll revisit the topic with them at a later date. A good way to show your commitment to their well-being is by establishing regular check-in times. If your loved one agrees, you can touch base consistently by text, phone or email. Sometimes just knowing that someone is thinking about them can be a huge support for someone in need. Along these same lines, you may want to broach the subject of having an emergency plan if your loved one’s health spirals into risk-taking behavior or if suicidal thinking escalates. Such a plan may include seeing a school counselor or talking to a family doctor.

Lastly, you may want to consider seeking psychotherapeutic help yourself. On the one hand, a professional can help you to develop an appropriate emergency plan and/or advise you on how to help your loved one get the help they need. Additionally, it may help to explore your own frustrations and feelings that you have about your loved one’s situation. Ultimately, you may find that talking to a mental health expert can help you to accept the limitations that a loved one has put on your ability to help or intervene.

If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, lifelong recovery is possible. All you need to do is reach out. Starbent Recovery was founded on the belief that people suffering from addictive disorders, trauma, and other co-occurring issues can thrive in the right environment. 

Our professional, dedicated staff have the understanding, experience, and compassion necessary to support each resident’s clinical treatment team goals. We offer individualized tier level programs and guidance with residents’ personal recovery and independent living goals.

To learn more about our premier women’s recovery residence, call us at (800) 673-0176.

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