In 2021, Forbes reported that almost half of Americans who have mental health disorders do not seek professional help. Their reasons vary:
- 36 percent of respondents said they prefer self-help;
- Of the people who answered above, 34 percent of those people said that they do not know where they can get the help they need;
- 28 percent of people who preferred self-help said that they have no confidence in our current treatments;
- 22 percent of the respondents said that they were afraid of the stigma and didn’t want people to know; and
- 17 percent said they couldn’t afford it.
While the treatments we have now are certainly not perfect because our mental health professionals are not also human beings who are, in good faith, also still learning about mental health as the world turns, there are still so many benefits to seeking professional help when we are experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other disorders.
Moreover, we have come a long way in destigmatizing mental health problems, so if we can afford it or if we have access to counseling or therapy, then it’s something we need to seriously consider. Here are the five benefits of seeking professional help when we are having a hard time with our mental health.
It provides practical tools to help manage one’s symptoms
It’s one thing to read articles and books about your symptoms, but consulting with a mental health professional will help you gain the tools you need to manage them. People who struggle with depression may have similarities in broad strokes, but at the end of the day, no one has your exact history, context, and genetic makeup—so a mental health professional will help you come up with a treatment plan that’s specific to your needs.
Moreover, if your symptoms are already keeping you from functioning daily, if you’re having a hard time performing tasks or keeping a steady job, then a mental health professional can help assess if you would qualify for Social Security disability claims to help lift some of your financial burdens.
It helps reduce your risks for other medical problems
Because poor mental health can cause a wide array of other health and medical issues, seeking professional help can help you reduce your risks for other potential health problems. Here’s something you need to know about your entire being: Your mental, physical, emotional, and even spiritual health are intrinsically linked.
If your mental health is out of order, then every other area of your person is at risk for other problems. For example, if your depression is causing insomnia, then that will significantly affect your body as well. Consulting with a mental health professional will help mitigate those risks.
It helps people build meaningful relationships
Perhaps one of the biggest gifts that professional help can give you is a community of people who know exactly what you’re going through. People who struggle with their mental health often feel alone, and fall into the lie that no one truly understands their hardships. But seeking professional help might provide you with a strong group of lifelong friends who are also going through the same thing you are.
This will be especially true if you attend group therapy sessions or a support group like Alcoholics Anonymous in conjunction with your therapy or counseling sessions. If you have always wanted to build meaningful relationships based on trust and acceptance, then you might find it in counseling or therapy.
It gives you awareness and healthy coping strategies
So many people don’t heal or recover from their struggles because they have no awareness of them. It’s so easy for us to simply label people who attract plenty of drama as “toxic” or “dramatic,” but they might be struggling from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Here’s the thing: Most neurotypical people learn how to self-soothe, but people who struggle with BPD don’t necessarily have that privilege. This is why their need for their emotions to be validated might seem dramatic or overly needy.
If people who struggle with BPD are never armed with this information, they will go their entire lives thinking that they are simply difficult people, and the people around them will also think the same thing. Seeking professional help will help those who struggle and the people who love them the education and healthy coping strategies they need to help everyone begin their journey to recovery.
If you or someone you love are struggling with your mental health, do not be quick to reject the idea of seeking professional help for it. You deserve help, health, and healing, and while the road will not be easy, the goals are ultimately worth it.