There are several reasons why people with mental health concerns struggle to get into treatment, but fear may be the most dominating factor. Coming to the realization that you need to ask for help when your mind is telling you, “I should be able to do this on my own!” can be frightening and difficult to overcome.
This is just one of many potential roadblocks because as you may have guessed, not all people with mental illnesses are capable of coming to this kind of realization on their own. Even for the people that do seek treatment to address their mental illness, it can be a struggle to tap into the financial resources necessary to do so. It is critical that we work together to further destigmatize mental illness by gaining a greater understanding of why people struggle to get into treatment.
Mental Illness Treatment: The Fear Factor
What are people with mental health concerns so afraid of? Fear of the unknown, fear of being labeled and affected by stigma, fear of being rejected, fear of being medicated, fear of losing their dignity, fear of appearing “weak,” fear of succumbing to the diagnosis – the list goes on and on. Many people struggle to take that critical first step into treatment due to these overwhelming, all-encompassing fears.
The British royal family recently attended a briefing at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts to discuss their plans to destigmatize mental illness through the launch of their Heads Together campaign. Duchess Kate Middleton spoke out to offer the following refreshing explanation of why people don’t always seek help for mental health concerns, and we couldn’t agree more:
“The challenge that so many people have is not knowing how to take that first step of reaching out to another person for help. Admitting that they are not coping. Fear, or reticence, or a sense of not wanting to burden another, means that people suffer in silence — allowing the problem to grow larger and larger unchecked.“
Overcoming Anosognosia: Impaired Awareness and a Lack of Insight
Imagine that you are a healthy person who has just accidentally broken your arm. Do you seek immediate medical treatment? Of course. Why? Because you are aware that you are in pain – obvious and undeniable pain. Now imagine that you are suddenly “hearing things” that no one around you seems to acknowledge, or that you are beginning to encounter harmful and obsessive thoughts that don’t seem to quiet. Do you seek immediate medical treatment? Probably not. Why? Because if you have been otherwise healthy for your entire life, these symptoms likely make you feel vulnerable and confused. You may tell yourself things like:
- “My mind is just playing tricks on me because I’m tired and stressed”
- “There is nothing wrong with me, I’m fine”
- “That was a fluke, it won’t happen again”
- “What will people think of me? They wouldn’t believe me anyway”
- “I’m not crazy, so what’s the sense in telling someone about it?”
- “I don’t need any help, I can overcome this myself”
These types of statements are indicative of anosognosia, or impaired awareness of the illness. But the thing is – mental illnesses have a median onset age of 30-years-old in most individuals, especially when it comes to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. When you break your arm, the people around you can visually trust that something is wrong. However, when you begin hearing voices, feeling anxious, distrusting your sense of reality or battling a sudden obsessive behavior, that same visual proof, reasoning and support aren’t there.
This kind of limited awareness creates another roadblock on the path to not only seeking treatment but sticking with it. Even when an individual has sought help and been issued medication to manage their symptoms, the same lack of awareness can lead to a discontinuation of treatment once they begin to “feel fine” again. Spoiler alert: many of these patients do not realize that they “feel fine” again because of their medication. If this sounds like you or someone you know, please reach out to us for assistance getting into treatment.
Are You or Is Someone You Know Struggling to Get Into Treatment for Mental Illness?
All of the aforementioned factors aside, health insurance can be costly and it can be difficult for people to find mental health professionals that work within their network – and that’s assuming that these people have active healthcare plans that accommodate affordable “specialist” visits. At CBT Solutions, we offer a sliding scale fee structure for many services. Help us help you get the treatment you deserve to start managing your mental illness by contacting us today.