Barriers that discourage us from seeking help for mental health & ways to overcome them

Updated: Feb 16

Seeking help is often easier said than done. It is usually a very difficult first step for most people who have been living with a mental health issue. Admitting to others around us and even ourselves that we need help can be quite an uncomfortable thing to do.

Moreover, there are a complex set of reasons behind why people are often reluctant to seek out treatment for their mental illness, and stigma is only one of them!

The greatest barrier to seeking help is often ourselves. Our thoughts can act as barriers, and we need to actively break these down. A very common thought barrier is a false sense of self-sufficiency. People frequently feel the need to handle problems on their own. Living with a mental health issue is hard enough. Then why not make it easier for yourself and seek the help of people you trust or professionals around you?

Many of us also often hold false beliefs about the process of getting the treatment as well. Ideas such as, 'Treatment doesn't work and is a waste of time', or ' I will be forced to take medication' discourage people from seeking help. One way to dissipate these false beliefs and to increase awareness is by talking about your situation with people you trust.

Some of us may also face genuine practical obstacles as well, such as not knowing who to meet, how to get there, and not knowing how expensive the treatment is going to be. And finally, to make it even more difficult, there is stigma often faced by people with mental illness. Stigma people face from others as well as from themselves also known as self-stigma.

Remember, there are ways to overcome these barriers. One can start by taking baby steps such as being honest with oneself, admitting that you have an issue, that you may need help, and that you do not have to do it all alone.

Another thing to keep in mind is that suffering usually drives you to self-isolate, don't. You are not burdening anyone when you are talking about your issue, in fact sharing your situation with people you trust can accelerate your treatment process.

In addition, try not to harbor stigma and self-stigma and allow both to create self-doubt. Do not forget to trust yourself and your loved ones. Seeking help is being wise and not a sign of weakness.

Please follow Sunayana Nandagopal, PhD, Health Psychology, University of Lancaster, UK @findyoursunshine on IG or send her an email:

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