Potential Reasons to Seek Help for Mental Illness and Emotional Support

Potential Reasons to Seek Help for Mental Illness and Emotional Support

Potential Reasons to Seek Help for Mental Illness and Emotional Support

Our minds can be our worst enemies sometimes. We've all felt stressed, sad, or just not quite ourselves at one point or another. But for some people, those rough patches last longer and feel far worse than is normal or healthy. If you've been struggling with your mental health or emotions, you're not alone - many go through it. And the best thing you can do is talk to someone about it. Reaching out for help is one of the bravest things you can do when you're finding it hard to feel okay. It turns what seems like a solitary problem into a shared burden, and opens the door to feeling better. 

Lots of people think they have to go it alone when their mental health is rocky. But dealing with mental health issues solo is one of the hardest roads a person can walk. Your mind can play tricks on you when you're unwell, making problems feel bigger than they are. Professional help from counselors, therapists, and doctors takes the power away from those negative thoughts. Support gives you tools to start feeling like yourself again. You don't have to keep struggling - help is out there if you reach for it. Your well-being is worth making that call. 

There are many compelling reasons why people should reach out for help with mental health struggles rather than trying to cope alone. 

 

Mental Health Issues Are Common, But Support Is Available 

According to the American Psychiatric Association, nearly 1 in 5 American adults experience some form of mental illness each year[1]. These conditions are more common than many physical illnesses like diabetes or cancer. Despite how widespread mental health issues are, statistics indicate less than half of affected adults receive treatment. Many barriers contribute to low rates of support seeking, but the good news is that multiple options exist for those ready to take that first step. 

From therapists to support groups to crisis hotlines and more, an array of accessible and often free or low-cost mental health resources are available[2]. The most difficult part is typically not finding help, but convincing oneself to reach out especially if grappling with conditions like depression or anxiety. Knowing mental health issues are extremely common, yet support exists in various formats, could motivate more people to seek assistance. 

Simply recognizing one's struggles and mustering the courage to say "I need help managing this," can start the process of moving toward hope and healing.

Seeking Support Early On Improves Prognosis and Outcomes 

Among the most compelling reasons to prioritize getting support for mental health issues is that early intervention leads to the best results and recovery odds. Research clearly indicates that the earlier people receive help upon first experiencing symptoms, the more likely treatment will be brief and successful long-term[3][4]. If left unchecked, conditions frequently worsen over time and become deeply ingrained, difficult-to-treat patterns. Receiving support quickly could make the difference between short-term, manageable treatment and lifelong struggle. 

For illustration, consider major depressive disorder. Numerous studies find that among people who obtain treatment quickly when first exhibiting symptoms, 80% will fully recover and remain well versus just 30-40% of those who delay getting help until symptoms severely escalate[5]. The difference of months in support-seeking time translates to immensely improved prognosis and prevention of prolonged suffering. 

The same holds true across conditions like anxiety disorders, PTSD, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia among others. Motivating early help-seeking also prevents associated outcomes like job loss, relationship conflicts, or suicide risks from accumulating. The clear message is that seeking mental health support promptly, even if symptoms seem minor initially, can prevent short-term distress from transforming into chronic, disabling illness. 

Seeking Support Enhances Functioning and Quality of Life 

Daily functioning and overall well-being dimension of health are deeply intertwined with mental health. Data reveals that mental illness is among the most significant contributors to lost health and disability worldwide, often interfering with relationships, work or academic performance, independence, and personal fulfillment[8]

Yet among individuals who obtain evidence-based care like therapy and medication as appropriate, 65-80% experience significant enhancements in functioning and quality of life[9]. Support empowers people to build skills to manage symptoms and thrive despite a mental health condition. 

Consistently attending counseling helps clients reduce troublesome thought and behavior patterns while learning healthy coping mechanisms. Joining mental health support groups creates community and reminds those struggling that they are not alone. Trying medications helps balance brain chemistry to decrease severe symptoms like panic attacks or hallucinations.

Using tools like mindfulness, journaling, and lifestyle changes alongside treatment promotes further wellness. With appropriate help, most mental illnesses transform into manageable health conditions rather than sources of continual anguish. All people deserve the chance to function fully and pursue meaningful lives - seeking mental health support facilitates getting there. 

Social Support Is Vital for Mental Health Resilience 

Humans are inherently social creatures - we thrive when connected with others who care about our welfare. Isolation and loneliness take a drastic toll both physically and psychologically. A meta-analysis pooling data from multiple studies found that individuals with greater social connection and support experience a 50% reduced risk of early death compared to those lacking relationships[10]. Other analyses indicate suicide risk drops by two-thirds among socially integrated individuals[11]. Clearly, social support provides a potent protective buffer against health adversity. 

For those dealing with mental health issues especially, positive social bonds bolster resilience and aid recovery. Social support builds self-worth and motivation to persevere through challenges. Staying connected combats tendencies towards withdrawal and suicidal thinking during difficult times. Whether in the form of family ties, friendships, community engagement, group therapy, or church involvement, social connection serves as a lifeline - it offers hope and a sense of being understood and cared for. 

Seeking help for mental health struggles presents opportunities to reinforce social bonds as people share vulnerabilities and provide empathy and encouragement to one another. As mammals designed to live interdependently in tribes or villages, we cannot underestimate the healing power of feeling accepted and supported rather than abandoned in distress.

It is a reciprocal process where both giving and receiving support contribute to the overall strength of the individual and the community.

Untreated Mental Illness Worsens and Cascades to Other Diseases 

Just as promptly treated mental health issues typically improve, avoiding treatment often allows conditions to severely worsen over time. Individuals living with chronic untreated psychiatric disorders face an amplified risk of developing additional physical illnesses as well. Mental illnesses rarely occur in isolation - they both impact and become intertwined with other disease processes[12]. Embracing support early on could spare long-term harm. 

For example, longitudinal research reveals that people living with serious mental illness die on average 10-20 years earlier than the general population, mainly due to preventable co-occurring medical conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or respiratory disorders[13]. How does this happen? Partly lifestyle factors like smoking, substance abuse, inactivity, and poor self-care occurring more commonly among individuals with unmanaged mental illness drive disease progression.

Additionally, biological pathways like inflammation and cortisol changes related to psychiatric illness directly accelerate other illnesses over decades. Genetic liability also causes some to develop dual diagnoses or experience mental and physical symptoms as manifestations of one underlying syndrome. 

However complex the paths, the pattern remains clear - unaddressed mental health struggles clearly damage overall wellness. Taking steps to care for psychological needs, get support, and manage symptoms can prevent the accumulation of disability and sickness over the lifespan. Living with health-harming levels of depression, anxiety, delusions, trauma responses, etc certainly takes a toll. But embracing the help available can spur more hopeful, resilient trajectories. 

A Support System Helps Endure Symptom Relapses 

With many mental health conditions following episodic courses, it is important to develop tools not just for coping day-to-day but enduring periodic worsening of symptoms. For disorders like major depression or bipolar disorder, it is expected that most patients, even those whose treatment is generally effective, will experience relapses over their lifespan[14]

Times of heightened symptoms tend to recur under stress despite individuals’ best efforts. Without a support system, these periods threaten to spiral into full-blown episodes resulting in hospitalization, inability to work, or other crises. Having an ongoing team backing you up makes all the difference. 

Relapse prevention planning is considered a standard component of mental health treatment and social services[14]. Clients and clinicians partner together to draw up specific “what-if” scenarios for dealing with future ups and downs, considering: What early warning signs typically indicate you are starting to become unstable? Who comprises your support system you will reach out to? What are helpful versus harmful ways for you to cope as symptoms get more severe? What changes to medications or treatment would be appropriate at those times? 

By mapping out concrete answers, the likelihood of smoothly navigating periods of instability without destructive outcomes greatly improves. Not facing periodic worsening alone makes enduring symptom cycles feasible. 

Support Aids in Achieving Lasting Recovery and Fighting Stigma 

Far too often society paints hopeless, pessimistic pictures about the prognosis for major mental illnesses like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder[15]. Health providers themselves may inadvertently express doubts about patients’ abilities to stabilize, pursue aspirations, and lead fulfilling lives.

However, a crucial benefit of connecting with informal supports like peer groups and advocates is gaining firsthand exposure to others who have achieved long-term recovery and overcome discrimination. Building a personal network reinforces motivation and tactics for fighting stigma while proving wellness is possible. 

Hearing peers who have effectively managed psychiatric symptoms for decades emphasizes that healing can be a nonlinear path[15]. There are inevitable highs and lows. Yet with adequate treatment compliance, lifestyle balance, and social support present, living productively despite chronic mental illness becomes realistic for many. Support community members can uniquely offer wisdom and visibility for what furthering recovery looks like beyond just surviving[15]. They exemplify that obstacles like employment bias or relationship issues do not have to stop individuals from reaching their individual potential. Shared understanding empowers. Forging personal as well as medical support bonds plays an indispensable role in rooting hopeful belief in a better future.

Seeking help is a sign of strength, and there are various mental health professionals, including therapists, counselors, and psychiatrists, who can provide support and guidance.

In Summary 

There are myriad valid, evidence-backed reasons why seeking help and emotional support for mental health issues is vitally important and can make an immensely positive difference in individuals’ lives. From improving treatment prognosis and daily functioning to managing symptom relapses and fighting stigma, getting assistance yields tangible benefits. 

Support serves as a protective factor against cascading health decline and empowers enduring chronic conditions. Today various forms of help and community exist to aid anyone ready to take that first step. Reaching out is a sign of strength, not weakness, and the rewards of wellness far outweigh any momentary discomfort of change or vulnerability. 

References: 

[1] “What Is Mental Illness?” Psychiatry.org, 2024, www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/what-is-mental-illness. 

[2] “Help for Mental Illnesses.” National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 2022, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/find-help

[3] Health. “Early Signs and Intervention with Mental Illness.” Vic.gov.au, 2023, www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/servicesandsupport/early-signs-and-intervention-with-mental -illness

[4] “Top 5 Reasons to Seek Help - Mental Health & Wellness - University of Rochester Medical Center.” Rochester.edu, 2024, www.urmc.rochester.edu/mental-health-wellness/seek-help.aspx.

[5] Blackburn, Thomas P. “Depressive disorders: Treatment failures and poor prognosis over the last 50 years.” Pharmacology research & perspectives vol. 7,3 e00472. 3 May. 2019, doi:10.1002/prp2.472 

[6] Karnell, Lucy Hynds, et al. "Influence of social support on health‐related quality of life outcomes in head and neck cancer." Head & Neck: Journal for the Sciences and Specialties of the Head and Neck 29.2 (2007): 143-146. 

[7] Defar, Semira et al. “Health related quality of life among people with mental illness: The role of socio-clinical characteristics and level of functional disability.” Frontiers in public health vol. 11 1134032. 16 Feb. 2023, doi:10.3389/fpubh.2023.1134032 

[8] World. “Mental Health.” Who.int, World Health Organization: WHO, 19 Dec. 2019, www.who.int/health-topics/mental-health 

[9] Cook, Sarah C et al. “Evidence-Based Psychotherapy: Advantages and Challenges.” Neurotherapeutics : the journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics vol. 14,3 (2017): 537-545. doi:10.1007/s13311-017-0549-4 

[10] Holt‐Lunstad, Julianne, et al. “Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-Analytic Review.” PLOS Medicine, vol. 7, no. 7, Public Library of Science, July 2010, pp. e1000316–16, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316

[11] US), Medicine, et al. “Society and Culture.” Nih.gov, National Academies Press (US), 2024, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK220948/. 

[12] “Untreated Mental Illnesses: The Causes and Effects – Princeton Public Health Review.” Princeton.edu, 2017, pphr.princeton.edu/2017/04/30/untreated-mental-illnesses-the-causes-and-effects/

[13] de Mooij, Liselotte D et al. “Dying Too Soon: Excess Mortality in Severe Mental Illness.” Frontiers in psychiatry vol. 10 855. 6 Dec. 2019, doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00855 

[14] Kapil, Rubina. “The Importance of Having a Support System - Mental Health First Aid.” Mental Health First Aid, 6 Aug. 2020, www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/2020/08/the-importance-of-having-a-support-system/

[15] Livingston, James D et al. “The effectiveness of interventions for reducing stigma related to substance use disorders: a systematic review.” Addiction (Abingdon, England) vol. 107,1 (2012): 39-50. doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.2011.03601.x

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