By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.
Why is it so hard to seek treatment for mental health problems?
If you had a broken leg, most people would head immediately for the hospital to seek treatment. If you’re incredibly drunk or high, you might put off going for treatment until you sober up. That’s a terrible idea. The longer you walk on the broken leg, the more damage you could do.
Not attending to mental health problems is the same thing. There are effective treatments for mental illnesses. Avoiding that treatment doesn’t make a mental illness go away. But some mental illnesses the longer you put off treatment, the more help you will need. Here are some reasons people avoid seeking help for their emotional problems.
Do you think having feelings is a bad thing?
Many people develop the mistaken attitude that feelings are bad, and we shouldn’t have them. Men especially have been prone to this. Society tells you that if your sad, anxious, or afraid, you should ignore those feelings and get back in the game. There’s a difference between acknowledging your feelings, the way you would a physical pain, and allowing those feelings to take control of you.
Feelings are a valuable source of information. When we say that someone makes us sick to our stomach, there are nerve cells wrapped around the stomach and intestine which contract. Have you ever thought that someone was a pain in the neck? When you have that feeling, reach up and rub your neck. You’ll find it is stiff and the muscles have contracted.
Our nervous system sends signals when things are wrong. Some of those signals get interpreted as physical pains, and some get interpreted as feelings. In both cases, the body is trying to tell you something.
Do you feel you should be able to cure yourself of a mental illness?
Many people have the mistaken belief that if they bottle up feelings, those feelings will go away. We learn in anger management classes the bottling up anger allows it to build up steam. The opposite approach, venting your feelings, is just as dangerous. Exploding in anger can send you to jail and permanently destroy relationships.
The middle path, which is the most effective, is to learn to process those feelings and work through them. While you can learn skills to more effectively manage your mental and emotional challenges avoiding treatment for a mental illness is like trying to remove your appendix at home without anesthetic.
Do you expect an instant cure for your mental health problem?
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a pill you could take, and you would magically lose all that extra weight? How many people have tried drugs that are supposed to grow their muscles and make them stronger? When it comes to your physical or mental health, change takes time and effort. It’s better to work on staying mentally healthy then expecting an instant cure for an emotional crisis.
Becoming physically healthy requires that you do the work. So, does becoming mentally and emotionally healthy.
Do you believe that the treatment will be worse than the disease?
Many people believe that treatment for mental illness means they must take medications that often come with severe side effects. There are indeed a few very severe mental illnesses that really require taking medication. And while medication can help with many mental illnesses, both therapy and self-help methods are also effective.
Getting help for mental health issues may involve some effort and some discomfort, but in the long run, you can save yourself a lot of pain by seeking help.
Do you think that therapy will be long, expensive, and painful?
Treatment for mental health problems is more available than it has ever been. Most medical insurance plans also cover mental health. More and more employers are providing employee assistance plan coverage for both mental health and substance use disorder issues.
Some mental health problems can be treated in as little as a single session. Many people find that a few sessions of counseling can help them create a plan for improving their lives and adapting to stress better.
There are newer techniques that don’t require you to revisit all that past pain. Solution-focused therapy helps you craft the solutions rather than stay stuck in the problem. Positive psychology approaches can help you manage your problems by building on your current strengths.
You may believe that going to see a counselor means you are crazy.
Do you sometimes think that if you go for help, you’ve lost control of your life? Seeking help doesn’t mean that it all. Top athletes all have coaches. Lawyers, if they have any sense, don’t represent themselves. Sometimes it can help to get another perspective on the challenges you’re facing. You may not be able to see your own swing, but a coach can tell you what you need to improve on. The same thing goes for a counselor. Sometimes if you’re struggling with life’s challenges, another perspective on your problems can be just what you need.
Do you have mental or emotional problems that would benefit from help? What’s keeping you from seeking out that help?
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
Six David Joel Miller Books are available now!
Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.
Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.
What if your family secrets put you in danger?
Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.
What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead?
Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.
Planned Accidents The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.
Sasquatch. Wandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?
For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller
Books are now available on Amazon.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders, see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.