Seeking help for a mental health problem is not easy. Individuals who are struggling with thoughts of suicide or other mental health issues may face any number of barriers.
Barriers To Help-Seeking
- Not recognizing that you need emotional support or professional help
- Not knowing how to find help
- Cultural traditions that value individual independence or frown upon seeking help outside of the family
- The mistaken belief that the problems you are facing cannot be resolved, even with assistance
- Lack of access to care, either because of a lack of providers or due to financial issues
- Many individuals are affected by mental health problems.
- Mental health issues aren’t signs of weakness or character flaws.
- Many individuals need help and support to feel better.
- There are many ways to get help and support, including telephone and online sources of assistance, mental health services, peer supports, and other options.
- There are health care professionals who are specially trained to assess suicide risk and provide effective treatment for suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
- There is hope. Individuals with mental health problems can get better, and many recover completely.
Individuals with mental health problems can get better, and many recover completely.
- Include people with lived experience on your suicide prevention planning team.
- Identify local and national options for help-seeking, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, warmlines, online support communities, and mental health services, and promote them through outreach campaigns and other channels.
- Identify and reduce structural and environmental barriers to help-seeking. For example, make services more accessible, convenient, and culturally appropriate.
- Educate the community about the warning signs for suicide and correct misinformation.
- When training community gatekeepers to identify and assist people at risk, have course participants identify barriers to help-seeking and make plans for how they personally would seek help if they needed it.
- Reduce stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination by sharing true stories of individuals who sought help and benefited from it.
- Provide information on self-help tools and support options that people can access on their own.
- Train peers to support help-seeking and provide information about available services and resources.
Engaging in strategic planning can help you learn about your community’s beliefs and behaviors about help-seeking as well as available resources, enabling you to focus and tailor your efforts. When promoting help-seeking, it is also essential to plan ahead to ensure that sufficient resources are available to meet an increased demand for services.