How to Empower Yourself and Others to Seek Help and Support For Mental Health
Stress and worry are part of everyone’s daily grind. However, the pressure from external factors, coupled with internal dilemmas, can exacerbate these underlying emotions. These may evolve into debilitating issues that will impact every aspect of your life.
Mental health issues like depression and anxiety paralyze you in more ways than one. This strains your personal growth, productivity, and relationships. And even if there are support channels and professional help available, the fear of judgment and the overwhelming sense of isolation make it an uphill battle to seek help.
Crushing the Stigma: Debunking Top Mental Health Myths
Even with the wealth of information out there, mental health remains misunderstood for the most part. Fortunately, it’s slowly creeping out of obscurity and is at the center of conversations. People are better at and more comfortable sharing their diagnoses and struggles now compared to before.
Unfortunately, the misconceptions surrounding it often keep people from getting the help they need. Here are the truths behind some false claims you might have heard about mental health.
Myth: It’s for the weak.
The truth: A mental health issue being a sign of weakness is perhaps the most undermining myth. It’s not a character flaw, nor does it reduce you to being a weak person overall. It takes great inner strength to recognize and work toward healing.
Myth: People with mental health issues are violent and disruptive.
The truth: Split, Joker, The Shining, and more—these highly acclaimed movies have one thing in common: an inaccurate portrayal of mental illnesses. The association of crime and violence with mental illness puts delicate conditions like schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a bad light. In reality, most people struggling with mental health aren’t violent but are often the victims of aggression rather than the perpetrators.
Myth: People with mental health illnesses can’t maintain a job.
The truth: The premise is that people with mental health issues can’t be a part of the workforce. This is simply not true. In fact, 84% of employees have reported that they experienced at least one mental health challenge. For this reason, companies are now prioritizing mental health support as part of their benefits plans.
Myth: Mental health issues only affect certain types of people.
The truth: Mental health issues excuse no one, regardless of their age, gender, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, social status, religion, and other cultural backgrounds.
Myth: Being mentally ill means you’re crazy.
The truth: “Crazy” is an inane label to call anyone. It forces a person struggling mentally to isolate and hide their condition rather than seek help. A mental health issue is a problem akin to physical sickness. It’s not crazy to be vulnerable to diseases.
Myth: Children can’t experience mental health problems.
The truth: Mental health symptoms can start in early childhood. Some common mental disorders in kids include hyperactivity (ADHD), anxiety, and behavioral problems. Unfortunately, 1 in 7 children in the United States is undiagnosed with treatable mental issues. The figure accounts for 7.7 American kids who are silently struggling to fit in and would have benefited from early detection and treatment.
Myth: Recovery is impossible.
The truth: Mental health recovery is not cookie-cutter like physical ailments. It’s different for each person. The misconception can root in sadness, fear, and worry returning even after a series of therapy and medication. However, the right support, self-care methods, and treatments will eliminate their crippling hold on your life.
6 Reasons to Reach Out and Get Help
You deserve to live a life free of constraints. It’s time to stake your claim on the best things this life has to offer by improving your mental health. Here are the reasons why getting the help you need may be the best thing that can happen to you:
Get a better understanding and insight.
Persistent worry, perpetual exhaustion, loss of appetite, and other symptoms are perplexing experiences. A good grasp of your issues and their root causes eliminates the associated guilt and confusion, helping you better navigate them.
Learn coping techniques.
Mental issues can disrupt your daily routine and significant plans. Talking to others or sitting down for a consultation helps you learn coping mechanisms and emotion regulation techniques to regain control and lessen their impact on your life.
Receive advice and support
Seeking help opens your doors to a community of peers with the same experience. They can give you proven advice and encouragement to break destructive habits, manage emotions, and take a turn toward getting better.
Reconnect and build relationships
Isolation is a huge part of a mental health struggle. Getting the help you require will encourage you to reconnect with and spend time with friends and family that you may have neglected when you were at your lowest. You’ll also be in better shape to meet new people and cultivate healthy relationships with others.
Prevent medical issues
Lack of sleep, unhealthy eating habits, fatigue, and a slew of other issues increase your risk of various illnesses. Mental health doesn’t only affect your state of mind but your physical function as well. The right treatment plan reduces the likelihood of threatening medical conditions.
Boost school and work productivity
Among American adults with mood disorders, 26% of them reported a significant loss of work and school days due to their condition. Being in a stressful environment with a hectic schedule and increasing demands can take the biggest toll on a person with mental health issues. Managing these issues can help you maximize your potential and boost your confidence to collaborate, communicate, and perform tasks under pressure.
Signs That You Need Help
Every person faces endless challenges as they wade through life. We worry, fear, ache, and face difficulties. All of these prove that we’re human with the right emotions in every circumstance.
But what’s normal, and what signals a red flag? What’s a human response, and what needs proper attention? Sometimes, people are too quick to dismiss their issues because the line is hard to decipher. Here are some telltale signs that seeking support and getting help are crucial:
- Extreme worry
- Lack of sleep
- Bouts of anger and irritation
- Excessive mood swings
- Changes in eating habits
- Exhibiting self-harm or suicidal ideation
- Sudden unexplainable health problems
- Difficulty in concentration
- Intense concern over physical appearance
- Panic attacks
- Feelings of unworthiness
- Lack of interest in things that used to excite you
5 Best Ways to Support Someone Suffering from Mental Illness
Unsure of what to say or what to do? It’s heartbreaking to know someone with a mental health condition (mental Disorders) and have no idea how to help them. You don’t know how vulnerable they are or if they even want your help in the first place.
One thing’s certain: They need a friend like you. Your presence and aid are key factors in their healing. Showing up matters more than you think. And it all starts by reaching out.
Here’s how you can show your support and what to avoid:
It’s difficult to initiate a conversation with someone who is in a vulnerable state and express your concern. But expressing your concern is a crucial first step to showing your support.
Approach them with unassuming curiosity and tell them that you’re worried. Show them that you care enough to notice that they’re not okay. Instead of coming up with your own theories about what’s wrong, ask them what’s going on and let them lead the conversation.
If they share their sentiments, make them feel validated. It’s not easy to manage emotions that others brand as “all in your head.” The last thing they want is someone dismissing their struggles.
Be a listener.
It’s perplexing to not know what to say or how to encourage someone going through a rough patch. The truth is, keeping an open, non-judgmental ear is more than enough. Don’t beat yourself up over finding the right words to say. Dedicating your time, being patient, and reassuring them that their feelings are valid are all much more valuable than any advice.
Ask what you can do for them.
Menial tasks such as taking out the trash are already grueling chores for someone at their lowest. Soon the dishes would pile up and the laundry would accumulate, adding to their already overwhelming situation.
Offer your help and keep the burden of neglected to-dos off their back. Ask them if you can stock up their fridge, look after the kids, or clear the dishes from the sink. Buy them takeout meals or get them vitamins, like a desiccated organ supplement, to fill in nutritional gaps in their diet. This decreases their stress levels and boosts their mood significantly.
Keep in touch constantly.
Even if your loved one withdraws or refuses to open up in the first place, check on them regularly. Wanting to withdraw from others is common for those with mental health issues. It’s hard to lend support when they’re practically a no-show.
However, this is all the more reason for you to contact them. Send a text, chat, or make a call to let them know you’re in their thoughts. Ask if you can drop by their place. They won’t always respond, but knowing that someone is there for them is already comforting in itself.
Recommend seeking professional help.
The ultimate goal is always to help them get better. Emotional support can only do so much in helping someone feel better. Oftentimes, it doesn’t translate to long-term recovery.
Board-certified therapists and medical experts are more capable of getting to the bottom of their issues and providing guidance on developing efficient coping mechanisms tailored to their needs. Coax them to take baby steps, like starting with online therapy before setting a face-to-face appointment.
What not to do?
❎Allow it to negatively consume you. Being the receiver of distress calls, negative rants, and trauma dumps saps your energy. Make sure you’re not prioritizing others’ welfare above your own. Don’t be available for them 24/7 and take personal time to recharge.
❎Pressure them to talk. While your concern is understandable, forcing someone to open up is overstepping their boundaries. Let them set their own pace and time. Be there for them even without knowing what they’re going through.
❎Exclude them from plans. Don’t treat them differently or leave them in their isolation just because they’re vulnerable. Plan low-key, less hectic activities that they can participate in comfortably.
❎Use offensive and stigmatizing terms. If you’re close with someone, you’re most likely less conscious of your words and actions towards them, even in their delicate moments. Make it a point to avoid using words like “unhinged,” “moody,” “psycho” or toxic positive quotes such as “just be positive” or “this will all pass.” You may also make jokes in an attempt to lighten the situation. All of these can trigger a negative response.
❎Drag them to get help. As much as you care about the person, their medical decision isn’t yours to make.
❎Get angry or overtly frustrated. If they start to get to you, take a timeout. Never lash out at them. This only reinforced the feeling of guilt and underlined their perceived notion that they’re a burden to you and others.
❎Force yourself to talk. You’ve done more than enough by being there for them, even by just spending quiet time together.
❎Gossip about their situation to others. Sharing their problems with you is hard enough. The least you can do is preserve their privacy.
Mentally Stronger and Better
You’re here, which means you’ve already taken the first step in seeking help and learning how to support others on the same mental health journey. You’re already on the right track towards recovery. Don’t hesitate to take it to the next step, reclaim the best things in your life, and help your loved ones do the same.
Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you resist the incoming stigmas, gather the strength to overcome your struggles, and be a formidable support for anyone going through the same.
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