According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 51 million people in the U.S. live with a mental illness or require mental health treatment. However, some of those people either haven’t started looking for help or don’t think they need it. Some of them only deal with mild symptoms. In contrast, others live with severe conditions that prevent them from functioning in everyday life.
In your search for mental health treatment, you may already be aware of the challenges inherent in that process. There are genuine and often tedious obstacles to overcome when getting the mental health treatment you need.
These obstacles can prevent you from even thinking about asking for help, even if that help could improve the course of your life forever. Just thinking about what it would take to change can become so overwhelming that you might give up before ever trying to make the switch.
Here are some of the biggest obstacles preventing people just like you from getting the treatment they need to live a fulfilled and happy life.
Mental Health Treatment: Fear of Change
Choosing mental health treatment calls for a significant change in the life you have been living so far, and rarely does it come without hard work. Going through treatment requires you to look at parts of yourself that you may have hidden or pushed away for a long time.
However, change is essential to growth. Without it, you’ll keep stagnant, continuing to rely on the maladaptive patterns and coping methods of your youth. You’ll continue to live in the vicious cycle that has been dominating your life for so long.
Many people fear change because it requires venturing into the unknown. For others, change doesn’t feel safe, so they try to avoid it as much as possible.
Some might feel like life has no meaning and know they need to step into the unknown to get to where they want to be. But despite this desire, they likely feel stuck. No matter how serious you might be about making changes, if you don’t intentionally seek it out, you won’t find what you’re looking for.
Did You Know?
Maladaptive patterns are behaviors that benefit you short-term but end up causing long-term problems.
Denial of the Problem
Denial is a powerful obstacle that sometimes leads to a lack of change for entire lifetimes. Most of the time, notes Mayo Clinic, denial comes from an inability to see the connection between problems in one’s life and the negative behaviors that perpetuate them. Many who are in denial also don’t understand the benefits of going through mental health treatment. They might not think their mental state is bad enough to warrant treatment.
Pride and arrogance can also go hand in hand with denial. If someone is too confident, they might feel like they can change at any time. The problem becomes their lack of desire to change or disbelief in the benefits of doing so.
A supportive environment can make or break the success of any lifestyle change. Unsafe environments—like ones that are abusive or in constant distress—can lead their inhabitants to be in survival mode constantly. When you’re in this frame of mind, change is the last thing you’re ready to consider. At that moment, your only thought is of safety.
Life challenges such as getting a new job, having kids, or changing your relationship status can also perpetuate a distracting environment. You dedicate your focus and energy towards survival during this time, so you have little reserved for much else.
Chronic stress can also prevent you from getting the needed treatment. If you’re constantly worrying about the crisis of the week, it might not feel as though you have the time or energy to change your habits.
Family or roommates that enable your behavior, encourage you to partake in addictions, or make it easy to put off important tasks can be a monumental obstacle as well. Knowing how family roles and connections allow problematic behavior is the first step to create lasting change.
Each of these environmental factors enables you to continue indulging in old habits. Sometimes, it’s impossible to make any lasting changes if we haven’t taken steps to prepare our environment for it.
One of the biggest obstacles to making lasting changes or receiving mental health treatment is fear.
Several types of fears hold us back from making changes, including lack of courage and fear that someone else will see our weaknesses. Fear of the unknown is also one of the most common things preventing people from making lasting changes. If they don’t know what life will be like in the future or who they will be without that part of their identity, they might feel so afraid that change feels impossible.
The longer you let your fear rule your life, the bigger they’ll become. As suggested in an Inc.com article, staying afraid reduces your ability to make the choices that are best for you.
Lack of Consistency in Mental Health Treatment
Some people have tried to change before, but they didn’t get the results they wanted. For the most part, people in this category fail because they don’t consistently work to get where they want to be.
There are a few ways lack of consistency can show up. Having a vague goal is one of the principal ways it can manifest. If you want to get healthy but don’t get more specific about the changes needed, you won’t get anywhere. However, if you decide you want to eat five servings of vegetables a day, that’s a measurable, attainable goal.
Change is also complicated once you already have maladaptive behavior ingrained as a habit. Changing conditioned and reflexive responses takes a lot of courage and often requires time and energy.
The biggest hurdle for lack of consistency is your attitude. If you get discouraged easily or give up at the first hurdle, you might tell yourself that you can’t do it. But, as long as you keep trying and don’t give up, you won’t fail.
Ways to improve your consistency include:
- Stay accountable to a friend
- Install a sobriety tracker app on your phone
- Reward yourself when you do the behavior you want to make into a habit
- Schedule a time for the new behavior
Sometimes when we want something to change, we wait for motivation to strike us before we take any action. However, that’s not how change happens. In reality, change only happens when you consistently and repetitively take action to switch behavior from one that doesn’t suit you to one that supports you.
Suppose you’re waiting for motivation to strike you before you make changes. In that case, likely, the behavior you’re doing is still benefiting you in some way. Ask yourself what you’re getting from it? Are you holding on to playing the victim?
There’s a reason many people don’t change until they hit rock bottom. Sometimes, people don’t change until they’ve decided they’ve felt enough pain from their problematic behavior and commit to doing whatever it takes to make the change stick.
Opposite of fear, pride can prevent people from seeking the help they need for improving their mental health. Pride goes hand in hand with denial.
Those who are proud might wear their dysfunction as a badge of honor. Or, they might cling to the belief that they don’t need help. Often, pride makes us feel like we have to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps and self-solve our problems.
However, this approach can prevent those who would benefit from getting help for years.
Most of the time, changing your mental health takes humility and the ability to recognize what behaviors are holding you back. It also requires you to believe that the tools provided to you will work. That can be hard if you let your pride get in the way.
Resource Availability for Mental Health Treatment
The lack of knowledge many people have before starting treatment means that they struggle to make the needed changes on their own. They might be perfectly willing but not know what to do.
Sometimes when people try to make changes independently, they don’t have the resources necessary. This inability could be a lack of knowledge or a lack of means to make the change happen.
When you go to a treatment center, you learn practical and applicable skills that teach you how to make and sustain lifestyle changes.
The way to talk to yourself and talk about yourself plays a huge part in improving your mental health. Sometimes, you have to give up something you value to make lasting changes, even if it’s just your reputation.
Some tie their identity into bad habits they’re trying to kick. such as being a wine drinker. Others struggle to change because it is their primary source of connection to other people.
When something is part of your identity, it can feel impossible to change. You’ll have to change how you talk about yourself, both to yourself and to others, to make this change stick. Changing how you think about yourself is critical to change your self-talk.
When you reach out to Promises Behavioral Health, you’re bringing in resources and putting yourself in a supportive environment. Going through treatment involves learning about motivation and commitment. You’ll also learn healthier ways to talk about yourself and how to deal with changes in identity.
If you need help getting the mental health resources you need, call us at 888-557-3208.