Seeking Mental Health Support: Overcoming The Psychological Obstacles 

Seeking Mental Health Support: Overcoming The Psychological Obstacles  

Mental health is important. Yet, many do not seek help. What are some of the psychological barriers that prevent us from receiving care and how do we get past them? In today’s post, we explore misconceptions held about therapy and offer a few insights. 

Mental health is a common problem among adults. 

In a fact sheet written by the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 264 million people worldwide experience depression whilen an estimated 45 million people suffer from bipolar disorder.1   In the United States, for example, about 1 in 4 adults (18 and older) have a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year.2  

However, despite these extremely high figures (excluding other mental disorders), we find that less than one-third of people with psychological distress do not visit a mental health professional.3

It may be social stigma. It may be a fear of treatment. Yet, whatever the cause, this collective does not seek the help they need, and quality of life begs to worsen. 

In today’s post, we take a look at a few psychological obstacles (i.e., misconceptions) that prevent some from taking the next step and receiving proper care. Let’s begin!

Misconception #1: “I am not weak. I can figure this out on my own.”

This is a common statement made by many people considering the possibility of therapy. The belief may find its roots in antiquated gender roles (e.g., men crying undermines their supposed role to be “protectors”) or in the mere fear of vulnerability. 

The latter, in particular though, may be of more interest to us. 

Psychological vulnerability represents a bareness of emotions and thoughts, and a person’s previous decision to break down metaphorical, mental walls before a complete stranger. It is an action that, all things considered, is understandably intimidating. However, the choice to seek help and share certain aspects does not mean weakness. 

Instead, the choice underpins both a person’s commitment to mental well-being and the understanding of limitations. If we consult a physician for a physical pain in the leg that hinders us, i.e., carrying out a daily routine action like walking, why should it be any different with mental issues? The mind forms part of the body; it is not some island in a neverending ocean. Because mental health can impact productivity, social relationships, and everyday life, it requires quality care as well.  

Finally, mental professionals must play a role in helping shift the paradigm on vulnerability, weakness, and therapy. They have an important task to outline, from the very beginning, the significance and benefits of receiving mental support. This could include mentioning the coping mechanisms and goals to be attained during sessions and detailing the differences between the unbiased guidance of a specialist and the subjective, sometimes self-motivated advice from friends or family. 

Misconception #2: “I’m not crazy. So, why would I need therapy?”

This misbelief relates mental health sessions with madness, or at least when all other resources have run out. However, therapy is not black and white. There is no one type of mental health patient. 

Those seeking therapy may be in dire need of help. They may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or a manic episode, and require immediate mental support. 

Yet, therapy could be as much suitable for those with mild cases of mental health problems.

Unlike self-help forums or books that offer insight on a particular context, therapists can welcome an unbiased yet critical perspective of that same scenario. They can question fallacies in thinking and provide those undergoing therapy with well-evidenced tools and approaches to prevent the problem from worsening.

From a professional’s perspective, it is not uncommon to encourage people (via a blog or in a prior session) to identify warning signs or symptoms and get help. These actions can represent a prevention-oriented mindset and foster more resilient mental health

Misconception #3: “You basically want me to pour out my inner thoughts and emotions to some stranger? I pass. I can do that for free with friends and not feel uncomfortable.”

Mistrust of therapy can originate because of unfamiliarity.

When we visit a physician or even physical therapist, we have a reasonable need to evaluate the credentials of the specialist, read reviews written by other patients, and learn more about the different types of treatments. It is our health, and we want to have some control of its course.

That said, though, to move past this ultimate misconception in the series, therapists must find ways in which they can shed light on their clinical practice, skill sets, training, treatment benefits, etc. and answer concerns or questions held by potential patients

When they do this, those with the possible need for therapy will be more likely to pick up the phone and schedule their first appointment. 

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