When a person’s life spirals out of control or stops making sense, the proper treatment can make all the difference. But only if that person actually takes action and seeks help. When mental health challenges set in, it’s not unusual for people to ignore their symptoms, avoid seeking treatment, or even change treatment methods. This article aims to shed light on understanding mental health help avoidance and why people neglect mental health care.
Over the past twenty years, I’ve observed that individuals who don’t seek mental health help often fall into one or more of the following categories:
- Fear of Changing Their Current Therapist or Counselor
- Lack of Awareness
- Lack of Support From Loved Ones
- Money and Making a Financial Investment in Themselves
- Fear and Distrust
Sadly, I have seen way too many clients who have spent years on a therapist’s couch, making no progress toward improved mental well-being. When they finally find me, usually through a friend or colleague who has had great success through my program, they are so overcome with their issues that every facet of their personal and professional lives is impacted.
Worse yet, when the therapist, counselor, or life coach they were previously seeing had no answers, they were quickly sent to a psychiatrist to be put on medication. Unfortunately, this is the sad reality of today’s antiquated and grossly ineffective mental health treatment methods.
Untreated Mental Health Issues Worsen Over Time
There are many different reasons a person is mentally or emotionally suffering. It could range from never working through a traumatic event to crippling anxiety, from a profound lack of self-confidence or poor communication skills to relationship conflicts and persistent sadness. Unfortunately, some of these conditions lead to crippling disability and the inability to function daily. This is why understanding mental health help avoidance is crucial.
Society still attaches a stigma to mental illness or what is “perceived” as a mental illness. People may believe that if they are labeled “crazy” or deemed mentally or emotionally deficient, it may impact their career or how others perceive them. This is probably the most significant barrier people face when they realize they need help. Often, if people talk about going to therapy, life coaching, or support groups, or if they tell others that they take medication to treat their symptoms, others may act like the person has some weakness of character. Many people believe that everyone should be able to overcome mental health challenges with willpower, which could not be more untrue. This is a significant reason why people neglect mental health care.
Lack of Awareness
Not everyone with a mental illness or emotional issue knows they have this problem. Even when a close friend or family member addresses something they see as abnormal, many sufferers will become defensive and deflect or project their problematic behaviors unto the other person genuinely trying to help. Though they may struggle with extreme sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, confusion, delusion, anger, depersonalization, or many different symptoms, they are usually unaware of what is causing them to experience these symptoms and refuse to recognize the strain it is causing in their personal lives and/or in their professional lives.
Those struggling with these conditions become somewhat immune to them as they begin to see these disorders as their “default setting” and may feel strongly that nothing is wrong with them. Whenever someone believes nothing is wrong, they are not motivated to get help. This lack of awareness is a significant factor in why people don’t seek mental health help.
Lack of Support from Loved Ones
Well-meaning family members or friends may quickly tell a person with a mental health condition that they are fine. Loved ones might insist it’s just a phase and the problem will probably go away in time. When loved ones tell someone experiencing an emotional or mental crisis that there is nothing to worry about, it is usually because that person does not want to accept that something is genuinely wrong. Humans are creatures of habit and resist change. So much so that we don’t even like it when someone close to us changes, even for the better. Because ultimately, it requires us to change as the dynamic shifts. So, the person hurting or suffering is much more likely to question their desire to get help or their belief that there might indeed be a problem. This lack of support from loved ones can contribute to why people neglect mental health care.
Fear and Distrust
Awareness that there might be a problem is the first step, but it’s not the only step. Reaching out takes courage, whether to a family doctor, counselor, or another supportive person. Talking to a stranger may be incredibly intimidating, and the person may need to muster up the strength required to trust a professional to help. For a person experiencing severe symptoms, the thought of going on medication is also frightening. They may fear how the medicine will make them feel, especially if there could be unpleasant side effects. This fear and distrust can be a significant barrier to why people don’t seek mental health help.
Money and Making a Financial Investment in Themselves
Many prioritize tangible assets like a house, car, or vacation when managing finances over less substantial but crucial investments like mental health support. They often see mental health services as an “extra” expense, relegating it to the back burner when budget constraints arise. This view may stem from societal conditioning, prioritizing materialistic needs over emotional well-being, or even a lack of understanding of mental health’s profound impact on all aspects of life.
Investing in mental health is not just spending but a lifelong investment. The return on this investment comes from improved quality of life, better interpersonal relationships, increased productivity, and overall contentment. Prioritizing financial resources for mental health is indeed an investment in oneself, offering invaluable returns that far outweigh the initial monetary expenditure. The most crucial money SHOULD be spent on our well-being; it’s high time we recognize it and realign our financial priorities accordingly.
It’s essential for anyone who thinks they may have a mental health condition to obtain evaluation and treatment. Many mental health conditions will worsen if not treated properly, which may lead to self-destructive behaviors. Symptoms of mental health or emotional problems should not be ignored because, in all my years as a doctor, I have never seen any mental health condition resolve on its own.
Understanding mental health help avoidance and why people neglect mental health care is the first step towards breaking down these barriers. It’s time to change the narrative and create an environment where mental health is prioritized and seeking help is normalized. If you or someone you know is struggling, remember that help is available, and it’s okay to reach out.
If you’re ready to take the next step towards better mental health, consider scheduling a consultation with me at MindLAB Neuroscience. Together, we WILL improve your mental well-being using Brain-Based Coaching and Counseling, Neuroscience, and Neuroplasticity, and start re-wiring all the neural pathways contributing to your suffering.
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