Despite mental health being more visible than ever and care being more available, only a few people seek professional help for their mental health concerns; according to the World Health Organization, up to 80 percent of people with mental health issues do not seek treatment.
Up to 80% of people with mental health issues do not seek treatment.World Health Organization
Why is this the case? Based on a poll conducted on MindNation’s Instagram page last March 2020, below are the eight most common reasons people avoid therapy. We asked MindNation People and Operations Head Kevin Quibranza to comment and share how we can overcome these thoughts and fears:
- Shame. (“I don’t want to be labelled ill or crazy. If word got out that I was seeing a psychologist, it could negatively impact my career, relationship, or other life goals.”)
“Being afraid to do what needs to be done because of what others think is detrimental to your health,” says Kevin. “Don’t be ashamed to seek help.”
When confronted with these negative voices, the best thing to do is to tune them out. If they harangue you, keep your replies short (i.e. “I see,” or “Okay”) and resist the urge to expound or explain yourself. Switch the topic if you have to. With nothing to continue on, the naysayer will stop there.
Lastly, surround yourself with enablers. Think about the people who are supportive or would be supportive of your plans to seek therapy if you told them. “Many people nowadays are open-minded with mental health problems and it is no longer as taboo for them as it used to be,” says Kevin. And if you don’t have any such people in your life, it’s okay. There are people out there in the world who are doing what you want to do, so increase your contact with their works, such as their books, their interviews, their TV shows, and so on.
- Practical barriers like cost (“Therapy is expensive. I’d rather talk to my friends, at least that’s free”) or inaccessibility (“My Internet connection is not stable;” “I don’t know how to use video conferencing apps.”)
Reaching out to friends and family is free and highly recommended when starting your mental health journey. However, there will be cases in which your loved ones might also need to set boundaries when on the receiving end of concerns. The end goal of therapy is not to have you dependent on it, but to build your resilience so you can approach life and its obstacles as a stronger, better YOU. Mental health professionals are trained to do just that.
TIP: As part of MindNation’s mission for accessible mental healthcare for all, psychologists and WellBeing coaches onboard are available for teletherapy sessions 24/7, and an initial session costs only P1,500 (for psychologist) and P500 (for a WellBeing Coach).
MindNation sessions are available through video call, voice call, SMS/chat, and Care Assistants will be able to guide you every step of the way.
- Hopelessness. (“I tried it once, I didn’t feel any better. I guess it’s not for me.”)
“Just because one psychologist’s approach did not work for you does not mean that another’s approach won’t,” explains Kevin. “Ask a friend, colleague, or doctor you trust to recommend another therapist who might be a good fit for you, although be mindful that you may have different therapy needs and goals than the one giving you the recommendation.”
- Distrust. (“I don’t like confiding in a stranger.”)
“It might sound paradoxical, but the best person to talk about our problems are strangers,” points out Kevin. “They don’t have the biases that you or your immediate family might have, which can stop them from guiding you or giving you the best advice, plus they can offer a fresh perspective on a situation that may have trapped you for a long time.”
- Denial. (“Why should I go to therapy, there’s nothing wrong with me. I’m fine, everyone goes through what I’m going through; just give me a few days and I’ll be able to snap out of this funk that I am in.”)
People usually resort to denial as a way of coping with anything that makes them feel vulnerable or threatens their sense of control. It could also be a defense mechanism against the fear of stigma mentioned in item #1.
“Denial is never helpful,” says Kevin. “If you have mental health problems, you need to go to therapy right away to stop it from becoming something more serious. Those few days that you are asking for to ‘snap out of it’ can be addressed in a one-hour session.”
- Lack of awareness. (“My family thinks it’s a bad idea.”)
This is usually said by older family members who do not understand the nature of mental health; the younger generation, thankfully, do not have such limited awareness. “At the end of the day, do what is best for yourself, because it will be you alone who will carry that burden,” advises Kevin.
- Anxiety. (“I don’t know where to go. How can I be sure I won’t be scammed or the organization is legitimate?”)
“Ask friends and other trusted sources for referrals, or follow the company’s social media accounts to read the reviews, comments, and see for yourself the work that they do,” suggests Kevin.
- Other priorities. (“I just don’t have the time/money;” “I’m so busy with so many things.”)
“Work can wait, your mental health cannot. You need to put your well-being on top of your priority list because everything else revolves around it; if you are mentally unwell, you cannot perform tasks as effectively, thereby affecting your productivity levels,” points out Kevin.
Seeing a psychologist or WellBeing Coach for mental health issues should be as natural and automatic as seeing a doctor for broken bones or other physical ailments. “When you burn your hand, your first and natural reaction is to put it under cold water,” Kevin says. “Going to a professional to treat mental distress should also be a priority.”
Lastly, don’t think of therapy as an expense; treat it as an investment. By getting help now, you generate returns in the long-run for yourself, your family, your community, and your business.