Accessing mental health support and recognizing the need for it are the largest blocks to mental self-care. Awareness is increasing, but why do we still hesitate to seek help? Feeling mentally unwell affects all of us at some time, and it does not mean we are weak-minded.
We all manage and will experience challenges to our mental health. Every year, 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental health problem or illness. We don’t have to navigate through mental health episodes alone. Prepare for yourself or help others by identifying what supports are available before an incident. Better recovery and less stress for family, friends and yourself are achieved when you learn more about this common problem. Discussing mental health challenges and experiences can build self-confidence, resilience and improve mental health detection.
Experiencing a mental health incident does not mean you have mental illness. Don’t rely on self-diagnosis, the internet or friends for long term mental problems. If things are not working, seek a professional, as you would for any health issue. The right support and treatment is effective after you have secured a proper diagnosis from a healthcare professional. Did you know that 50% of people have experienced or have a mental illness by the age of 40? It’s important not to assume that mental health problems are just a normal part of life or a part of aging.
Do not delay seeking help, even if you are not sure of whether you need help or have a diagnosis. There are people waiting for your call for help, so call on them.
Mental health supports are closer than you think. Start with describing your mental wellness on your visits to your doctor and pharmacist, providing a baseline of what normal is for you. This makes it easier to identify when things are not going well. Feeling out of control or suicidal? Get help immediately, call emergency, or your local health crisis line and you will be directed to the proper support. Waiting will not improve your thoughts, and delaying action will make simple tasks impossible.
If it is not an emergency, it is still imperative to look for immediate guidance. Crisis phone lines and online support are available 24 hours. Ask your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, educator or human resources at your employment. Find the crisis services in your area, program their phone numbers into your phone, and post numbers by the phone at home and work. Support for mental wellness is more widely available as recognition for the benefits of early intervention is now growing.
Still hesitant? For some, mental self-care or seeking help may even trigger more anxiety, perhaps even guilt. Having a cloud or feeling unbearable weight becomes “normal”. If this resonates with you, a call to a crisis centre can break the cycle of avoiding self-care. If any or some of these signs apply to you, you should seek help, including:
- Feeling something “is not right” is regular and ongoing, needing to pretend normalcy
- Use of alcohol or drugs to cope with difficult situations
- Refusal to socialize, isolating oneself, where it affects normal and daily interactions
- Change to your weight or appetite due to disinterest or overeating
- Sleep problems, either lack of sleep or oversleeping
- Uncontrolled emotions such as anger or anxiety
- Depression that lasts for several weeks, lack of motivation or prolonged sadness