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 on 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 are not 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 obtaining help, 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 seeking help. 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 seeking help 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.
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