There are many ways to ask for help, but sometimes it feels impossible. Here are some steps you can take to get started.
Asking for help with our mental health is one of the hardest but most important decisions we could ever. There are many ways to ask for help, but there are also many barriers. But, as the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved! No matter how big it might seem!
I’ve often taken many life problems, big and small, to my husband, my best friend, and even a designated therapist. And I’m not ashamed to admit it! However, there was a time I tried to go it alone. I didn’t want or need help from anyone. But, I soon learned the value of asking for help and how it matters more to us than we realise.
It’s not always obvious to us that we need help, however. Sometimes, things just become so played out, that we end up remaining on ‘auto-pilot’ far longer than we should have.
Signs that you may need help.
There are a number of different reasons that lead someone towards asking for help with their mental health. This isn’t a collective list, however, these are some of the most common.
- Feeling noticeably more worried or anxious.
- Masking emotional pain with substance abuse.
- A general feeling of deep unhappiness or discomfort.
- No longer feeling joy from things you previously would have felt joy from.
- Experiencing hallucinations and dissociation.
- The urge to self-harm or hurt yourself.
- Feelings of not wanting to be alive anymore.
- Loss of appetite, fatigue, and physical symptoms due to emotional pain.
- Suicidal thoughts; Both passive or active.
You don’t need to be in crisis in order to get support, and in fact, it’s better to get help with your mental health before it reaches crisis point.
For more information on a crisis and what to do see the penultimate section of this post.
5 ways to ask for help with your mental health.
Accept that you need help.
The first step in asking for help is realising and accepting that you need it. Without acceptance, you have denial, which will only stand in the way of you accessing the help you need.
But what does needing help look like? If you’re struggling to function on a day-to-day basis, feeling unable to cope, or if you’re having suicidal thoughts; You both need and deserve help. Don’t let your inner voice convince you otherwise.
Reach out to your key support system.
Before you can reach out to a support system, you need to determine who’s in it. Your support system should consist of trusted family, friends, and maybe even professionals. While you may not be able to choose your GP or family, you can choose the friends you allow into that inner circle. These should be people who make you feel comfortable, and maybe even happy.
Next, you need to reach out. A support system is extremely valuable to our mental health and overall well-being. And are paramount in receiving and maintaining an adequate level of support in times of chaos.
Determine the appropriate time & place.
If you’re opening up to a friend for the first time it’s important that you’re comfortable and relaxed. It’s a good idea to invite them over to your own space, or if there is somewhere else where you feel comfortable, that works too. As long as you are relaxed and comfortable enough to be open and honest about your mental health.
When going to see your health care provider, you may feel more comfortable taking your partner, friend, or family member. Going to the doctor is far from a comfortable experience and often it can be hard to find the words under pressure. That’s where a friend or family member can step in with support, and they may even be able to answer some of the GP’s questions.
Be completely honest.
When asked how you’ve been feeling or what’s been going on, be honest. It can feel easier to life or mask our emotions, but those who love you should respect your honesty. You may not wish to inform just anyone of your feelings, and that’s perfectly acceptable. But you shouldn’t be afraid to open up to a mate.
The phrase “I’m fine” shouldn’t come into it. Not if you’re really serious about getting help. Instead, explain what’s been going on as best you can. No matter how melodramatic it may seem in your head, just push that aside and address the issue for what it is; A mental health issue.
Think about what you need.
What are you expecting to achieve from reaching out for help? Obviously, help is one of them, but what sort of help? Medication, a referral, counseling? Don’t be afraid to be assertive and outright ask for these things.
If you’re seeing a GP be sure to ask questions about help available both in regards to your mental health and any external support you might need. It can help to go in with a list of pre-decided questions!
Also, be open and ready to accept the help you didn’t know you needed. This can come in the form of alternative medicine, rehabilitation, or something else. An outside perspective often helps us see the bigger picture, and this reveals avenues we weren’t even aware of.
Getting Help In A Mental Health Crisis.
What is a crisis?
A crisis occurs when you feel that your mental health is at a breaking point, and you no longer think you can keep yourself safe. This may mean that you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, thoughts of injuring yourself, extreme panic attacks, episodes of psychosis, etc.
No matter what you’re experiencing and why; It’s okay to ask for help!
What do I do?
If mental health crises are common or more likely due to a pre-determined diagnosis, then I would advise creating a crisis plan. You can find ideas for your plan in the following text.
If you’re experiencing a crisis there are many things you can do to help yourself. It’s important to remember that different things work for different people, therefore it’s understandable that some items on this list won’t be within your reach;
- Talk to a trusted family member or friend. If it’s feasible, ask if they would stay or spend some time with you.
- Contact your GP. If you’re in an emergency your GP surgery should be able to offer you an immediate, emergency appointment. If this is the case, see above for ways to prepare yourself when going for an appointment.
- Go to your nearest A&E department.
- Contact a helpline via phone, text, email, or online web chat.