Today’s Westernized cultures, societies, and standards of living push a notion of perfection – especially through our intense interactions with the media. People are now aiming to achieve a higher status to sustain influence and be thought of positively by people; often delaying or rejecting particular actions that imply weakness or negative impressions of themselves. It is no wonder there is such an intense stigma associated with mental illness, disorders—and ironically enough, seeking treatment for them.
You or a loved one could be facing stress that is impacting the quality of your relationships and daily functioning, or dealing with symptoms of an underlying disorder that you are struggling with – but have strong fear around, and ultimately avoid, seeking out help. Unfortunately, chances are you probably know someone who is facing a mental disorder and won’t be seeking any treatment in order to address and cope with it, and here are the most paramount reasons why.
(1) Mental illness is invisible
Unlike many physical disabilities or handicaps, a mental disorder is not something you can necessarily see with the naked eye. Sometimes mental illness can be concealed and kept hidden, which can make it easier to avoid dealing with. Emotions are a private event, which usually require us deciding to express our feelings to others, either through verbal communication, facial expressions, and other changes in our body language. Without that disclosure, it is quite often that one will feel like they can go on avoiding treatment because they have not exposed their experiences publically.
(2) Your culture does not believe in “those things”
You may have grown up in a culture or setting where certain behaviours or thoughts are viewed negatively. There could be cultural roles at play here when it comes to why a loved one is not getting the mental help that they need. For example, sometimes one believes they should be able to solve their problems because in their culture it could be seen as weak or “made up” for them to be suffering from any sort of psychological illness.
(3) Seeking out help is humiliating
Portraying a positive image of oneself is not only natural, but it is a survival mechanism. Letting other people know or find out that you’re seeing a mental health professional for help can make a person feel less-than or ashamed. That person may feel concerned about people finding out about their mental health issues—not assuming others will believe they are brave for getting help, but instead that others will think less of them or maybe even laugh.
(4) “I don’t have time for treatment”
Other family and work constraints can limit the amount of time that a person has to spend with a therapist or at an institution. Say for example, you have to watch your children because your partner works late and a babysitter isn’t available. Conditions like that present practical reasons for why someone physically cannot attend treatment, and may avoid it all together. Additionally, you may have availability to attend therapy on a day where the service is not available or the therapist his/herself is fully booked with other appointments.
(5) “I don’t have money for treatment”
Unfortunately, there are moments where one does acknowledge that they need treatment but face the barrier of not being able to afford the services available to them. In addition, affordable treatment could be available, but located out of region or in a different area away from where one currently lives.
Free services are sometimes offered, but are limited in number and vary between geographical regions. When a person seeking mental help is physically or financially unable to get there, discouragement can form surrounding the benefits of help.
(6) Not knowing where to look for help
People sometimes identify that they are going through a heavy period of distress or facing a mental disorder, but are unsure what resources are appropriate for them to use when finding help. There are thousands of trained mental health professionals available, but not being sure which type of treatment setting or specialization best suits you can bring a sense of concern that your troubles are not able to be dealt with. The search can be seen as discouraging for some and thus avoided. They may think there isn’t any help for their type of issues if no resources are helpful or accessible.
(7) A huge waiting list
Like any other kind of service, psychological treatment is a service that can come with a long waiting list. It can sometimes take a while before someone is able to get the help that they need. That situation can be frustrating, disappointing and confusing at a time where you need solutions to your mental distress.
Confidence that they will find solutions leading to positive outcomes is a mind-set that most people entering treatment want to have. A long waiting list decreases the perception of benefit for the person seeking treatment, and additionally may make it seem too difficult to achieve.
The All in All
Realizing these barriers can be essential in helping our loved ones rise above challenges blocking them from treatment, whether that is through systematic, economic, cultural, or practical obstacles. Helping them and encouraging them to get treatment is a vital part of their journey to recovery and to a great quality of mental well-being.
Thank you for reading
About Lakeisha Angelika
Based in Toronto, Ontario -- Lakeisha Angelika is mental health & wellness freelance blogger, with a background in Psychology. She shares informative and helpful articles on ways to boost quality of life, manage mental illness and issues surrounding the psychological community. Lakeisha Angelika also designs illustrations and posters that compliment her written text.