The following post is an opinion editorial from guest contributor, Lakeisha Angelika, Ryerson University Alumna.
Today’s Westernized cultures, societies and standards of living push a notion of perfection – especially through our intense interactions with the media. People are aiming to achieve a higher status to sustain influence and be thought of positively by other people; often delaying or rejecting particular actions that imply weakness or negative impressions of themselves. It is no surprise why 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 life, or dealing with symptoms of an underlying disorder that you are struggling with but have strong fear over, and ultimately avoid seeking out help because of that fear. Unfortunately, chances are you probably know someone who is facing a mental health disorder that won’t be seeking any treatment to address or cope with it. Here are some of the central reasons why.
(1) Mental Illness is Invisible
Unlike physical disabilities or handicaps, a mental disorder is not something you can necessarily see with the naked eye. At times, mental illness can be less difficult for one to hide, thus becoming easier to avoid dealing with.
Emotions are private events that 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 common that one will feel like they can go on avoiding treatment because they have not ‘exposed’ themselves yet publicly.
(2) Your culture does not believe in “those things”
You may have grown up in a culture or setting where certain behaviours are not practised and certain thoughts are considered unacceptable or taboo. There could be cultural roles at play here when it comes to why a loved one is not getting the mental health treatment that they need.
For example, sometimes one believes they should be able to solve their problems on their own because their culture perceives the alternative as weak or “made up,” when in fact, the opposite is true.
(3) Seeking out help is Humiliating
Portraying a positive image of yourself is not only natural, but is also a survival mechanism.
Letting other people know or find out that you’re seeing a mental health professional for help can sometimes make a person feel ashamed. Because of the stigma that exists, people often assume that others will think less of them if they seek help, rather than consider them brave for taking control of their psychological health.
(4) “I don’t have Time for Treatment”
Other family and work constraints can also 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. Situations like this present practical reasons, or barriers, for why someone physically cannot attend treatment and so they may avoid it altogether. Alternatively, a person may have the availability to attend therapy, but the service they need is not available that day or the therapist 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 barriers of not being able to afford the services available to them. In addition, affordable treatment could be available but out of region or in a different area from where one lives.
Free community services exist, but are limited in number, resources, and geographical location. When a person seeking mental health help is physically unable to get there, discouragement can overcome the benefits of help.
(6) Not knowing where to look for Help
While people sometimes recognize that they are going through a heavy period of distress or are facing a mental health disorder, they can be unsure about what resources are appropriate for them to use when finding treatment.
There are thousands of trained mental health professionals available, but not being sure which type of treatment setting or specialization best suits you can be overwhelming. Some people might look at this search as discouraging and avoid the journey all together. Perhaps they figure there might not be help for them at all if no resources are readily accessible or immediately helpful.
(7) A Huge Waiting List
Like any other kind of service, psychological treatment is a service that can sometimes come with a long waiting list until 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 solutions lead to positive outcomes is an important mindset 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 seem too difficult or unrealistic to achieve in moments of distress.
The All In All
Realizing these barriers can be essential to helping our loved ones rise above the challenges blocking them from treatment, whether that is through systematic, economical, cultural or practical obstacles. Helping them through their journey to recovery and great quality of mental well-being is a vital tool in getting them the right treatment.
Thank you for reading.
– Lakeisha Angelika
If you, a family member, or friend is in need, give us a call on our toll-free number. A member of our supportive, trained staff will provide immediate support and guidance.
Depending on your unique needs and preferences, we may connect you with a member of our collaborating network, which consists of 16 fully-vetted services so you can receive more specialized assistance. If we do transfer you to a member of our network, we will follow up to make sure you or your loved one has received the appropriate care.