Seeking help for your mental health is brave. And beneficial

August 23, 2021 - 19 min read

woman-seeking-help-for-mental-health

Jump to section

Mental health stigma is (starting to be) a thing of the past

The benefits of seeking help

8 signs that you should seek help

Where to seek professional help

Why it’s essential to reach out

Stop the stigma of seeking help

Mental health issues are of increasing concern on a global scale. According to Mental Health America, about 19% of adults are experiencing a mental illness in the US alone.

That’s equivalent to over 47 million Americans. And, this issue is prevalent in all age groups. 

Luckily, the conversation around mental health is growing. There are now more options for those seeking help and support for their mental well-being. And the stigma around mental health concerns is shifting.

The importance of addressing anxiety, depression, and overall mental fitness is undisputed. Yet, the idea of seeking professional help can sometimes seem daunting. 

How do you know if and when you should seek professional health? When is the right time to reach out? Not to mention, who should you turn to for help?

Let’s take a look at the benefits of seeking help for your mental health and why it’s so important to reach out.

Mental health stigma is (starting to be) a thing of the past

In the past, people with mental health conditions often had to live with harmful stigmas. Unfortunately, depending on where people live and the people around them, the stigma around mental illness is still present today.

For example, in India, one in five people may suffer from depression in their lifetime. This is equivalent to 200 million people, yet only 10-12% of these sufferers will seek help.

This is largely due to the stigma associated with mental illness and limited access to professional help. India is hardly alone in this.

Negative societal perceptions can discourage people from speaking openly about their mental health. This leaves many people feeling as though they are to blame for struggling with their mental health or mental fitness.

But the tides have turned over the last decade. Much of the world is taking progressive steps toward ending mental health stigmas. While more people are given the tools and support they need to manage these conditions.

This is reducing workplace discrimination and opening up new conversations about mental health. In turn, this has decreased the stigma associated with seeking help for depression, anxiety, and other conditions.

As both adults and children continue to suffer from mental health conditions, seeking treatment can greatly improve both their personal and professional lives, as well as overall well-being and happiness.

The benefits of seeking help

Actively seeking psychological help has many immediate and long-term benefits, including: 

1. You will no longer struggle alone 

Dealing with a mental condition can be an incredibly isolating experience. And struggling alone isn’t the answer to getting through difficult times.

Seeking help ensures that you can build a supportive community that understands what you’re going through. This community can offer helpful and appropriate guidance and advice.

2. You can build better relationships 

Mental health counseling will empower you to reconnect with your loved ones. You’ll build better, healthier relationships through clear and honest communication.

friends-laughing-benefits-of-seeking-help

3. It reduces your risk for other medical issues 

Poor mental health can also cause other medical issues. Poor sleep and sleep disorders, obesity, digestive problems, and other illnesses are all linked. Seeking help early on will minimize your risk of developing other health conditions.

4. It teaches you to develop coping strategies 

Seeking professional help will give you the coping tools and strategies you need. You’ll be able to navigate challenging situations with a greater degree of awareness.

5. Your performance at work can improve

Mental health conditions can severely impact our work performance. 

They have the potential to make us demotivated and despondent. Seeking help allows you to learn how to manage challenges that can affect your well-being and mental fitness. You’ll perform to the best of your ability, even when you are under pressure.

6. It improves your quality of life 

Acquiring help will assist you in strengthening your relationships and meeting new friends. You’ll also learn how to cope with challenges that arrive on a daily basis, while discovering what does and doesn’t work for you. 

All of these things can positively benefit your life in the long run while creating a healthier and happier you.

8 signs that you should seek help

It’s not always easy to know when to start seeking professional help. It’s also important to mention that everyone’s mental health journey is different. Below are just a few signs to be aware of. But remember, you are the best judge of you. Not experiencing any of the below but still don’t feel well? Ultimately, it’s always best to reach out and ask for help. 

1. You’re finding it difficult to concentrate 

Changes in performance at work are common among those battling poor mental health. This includes a lack of concentration and poor productivity levels.

You may feel disconnected from a job that once made you happy. You may even receive feedback from your managers that your work quality and concentration are low.

2. Your friends and family are concerned about you 

Friends and family members are sometimes (but not always) equipped to notice patterns from the outside that are difficult to see on the inside. If your loved ones have voiced concerns about your mental health, try and listen. They may have noticed something in you that you’re not yet able to see.

3. You’re having sleeping difficulties 

Depression and anxiety can both cause insomnia. Persistently struggling to sleep and poor sleep hygiene can interfere with your ability to function. 

If you're not getting enough high-quality sleep, it could be time to seek help. But remember, lots of things can affect your sleep, so it’s best to speak to a medical or mental health professional. Regardless of why you’re not sleeping well, poor sleep should never be ignored.

woman-laying-on-the-couch-seeking-help

4. Nothing excites you 

Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed, and in life in general, may be a sign you should reach out and speak to a professional. The past few years have been a difficult time for everyone and discovering what excites you, post-pandemic, can feel overwhelming.

5. You’re feeling isolated and alone 

Poor mental health can isolate us. They can make us feel alone, distressed, or uncomfortable around other people. A lack of understanding from your peers about what you are going through may compound the problem.

6. You keep getting ill 

Emotional distress and stress can affect your body. It can manifest as a wide range of ailments, from chronic stomach issues to frequent colds, headaches, and general physical pain. If you’re physically not feeling well and your medical doctor can’t find the cause, ask them to recommend a mental health professional for you to speak to.

7. You’re abusing substances to cope 

If you find yourself abusing drugs or alcohol, or even eating too much or too little, this may be a red flag.

Using these crutches to cope with poor mental health may numb you in the present but it may be a symptom of a larger cause and time to reach out for help. 

Reach out to the following organizations if you find yourself abusing substances to cope:

Traumatic events such as deaths, breakups, divorces, and job losses, just to name a few, can all require counseling to address. 

These traumas and associated grief don't always resolve on their own. They can impact your daily functioning if they persist. 

If you notice that you aren’t engaging in life or you’re pulling away from your loved ones, it might be time to seek professional help. 

COVID-19 has made it especially difficult for some of us to maintain our mental wellbeing during this difficult time. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the stress of the pandemic, you could be suffering from COVID PTSD.

Where to seek professional help

If you’ve decided to seek help, here are a few organizations that can help you find the professional support you need:

1. US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

This lifeline is if you or somebody you know is in immediate distress. It puts you in contact with trained crisis workers who are available to provide guidance and support 24/7. 

All calls are confidential and toll-free. Callers will be transferred to the nearest crisis center in this lifeline’s national network. 

These centers can provide additional crisis counseling and referrals to mental health specialists. This ensures that you can always find the assistance you are looking for.

2. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

AA is a global, community-based program created to help those struggling with alcohol addiction. The organization’s goal is to promote sobriety to suffering alcoholics. 

All AA members remain anonymous which helps remove the stigma of identification and recognition. 

Alcoholics Anonymous is based on a 12-step recovery program. This set of guiding principles was created to form the spiritual foundation for a life of sobriety. You can search for an AA near you on their website, as well as access their collection of resources like AA literature and daily reflections.

3. Narcotics Anonymous (NA)

NA is a global, community-based organization of recovering drug addicts with over 76,000 meetings weekly in 144 countries. The recovery process is closely linked to a peer support network. 

You can search for an NA meeting to find helplines and websites for local groups near you. They also offer a NA Meeting Search app to help you locate NA Meetings anywhere around the world.

4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on American communities. They also work to increase mental health outreach.

They provide leadership, support programs, and services for a range of issues. They have professionals who specialize in many different areas, such as addiction psychiatry.

You can find treatment facilities and public health programs for mental illness and substance abuse on their website. They provide their own 24-hour national helpline to support people experiencing emotional distress.

5. AARP Foundation’s Connect2Affect

AARP is a group focusing on issues affecting those over the age of 50. Their Connect2Affect is to help older adults overcome social isolation. 

Their local assistance directory offers reduced-cost services to help combat feelings of loneliness. They also provide an online assessment to see if you’re at risk of suffering from social isolation.

Their collection of resources is put together to promote wellness and help you stay connected during the challenging coronavirus pandemic.

5. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

NAMI is the largest grassroots mental health organization in the US, with more than 600 state organizations and affiliates across the country. It provides advocacy, education, support, and public awareness so that all individuals and families affected by mental illness can build better lives.

NAMI also works in communities to raise awareness and provide support and education. Many NAMI affiliates offer free support and education programs. You can find your local NAMI using this map.

Alternatively, contact the NAMI HelpLine. The free, nationwide peer-support service provides information, resource referrals, and support to people living with a mental health condition and their family members.

In a crisis, you can text "NAMI" to 741741 for 24/7, confidential, free crisis counseling.

Why it’s essential to reach out

It’s crucial to reach out when you are dealing with mental health struggles. This could include anything from suicidal thoughts to the feeling of loneliness or anxiety. 

Reaching out is important even if, from past experiences, you don’t feel that doing so will make a difference. 

By reaching out and being honest about what you are going through, you're more likely to receive the correct guidance and support you need.

woman-speaking-to-a-therapist-seeking-help

Every person that reaches out also helps to reduce stigmas associated with mental health. This will make it easier for those seeking help in the future to find the guidance they require.

It’s not always possible to reach out knowing exactly what you need from people. However, simply stating that you don’t want to be alone tells the people around you that you need extra care and support at a specific time. 

It also alerts them to the fact that they may need to assist you in seeking help.

How to help someone else

It’s important to seek out help when you are struggling. It’s equally important to try and support those in your life who you notice are struggling.

Here are some actionable tips you can use to help someone else:

1. Let them know they are heard 

Many people are hesitant and even scared to reach out. It’s important not to dismiss their concerns. Listen to their concerns and offer advice only if they're receptive to it.

2. Listen without making judgments 

You don’t know what someone with mental health issues is going through or how they perceive their own traumas and struggles. Remain empathetic and refrain from judging their actions or coping methods.

Stocksy_txpf6876017G0A300_Small_2268969

3. Suggest seeking professional help 

Gently advise your friend or colleague to start seeking help for their mental health issues with a trained professional. This may help to ensure their safety and guide them in the right direction.

4. Validate their feelings 

You can validate someone’s feelings by telling them that you believe them when they say that they are struggling.

5. Seek professional guidance yourself 

It’s crucial that you don't try to give mental health advice to your friends and acquaintances yourself. Seek guidance from a professional to provide your peers with accurate advice that will help instead of harm them.

Stop the stigma of seeking help

Seeking help is important and should never be stigmatized

By reaching out, you'll help break the stigma associated with conditions like anxiety and depression. At the same time, you’ll make sure that you find the right level of care and social support that you need.

You can even speak to your primary care doctor, who will help you find more specialized professional help.

Nobody should have to struggle alone. Provide your employees with the flexible mental health resources and personalized support they need to build mental fitness, no matter where they're starting from. BetterUp Care can provide guidance and coaching to support the mental health journey. Find out how we are revolutionizing mental health for all.

languishing-webinar-cta

  
Published August 23, 2021

Erin Eatough, PhD

Sr. Insights Manager

Read Next

Stay connected with BetterUp

Get our newsletter, event invites, plus product insights and research.