We all need to ask for help from time to time for the little things and monumental things in our lives. Some of us seek help more readily while others really struggle with it. Our asking for help also depends on the kind of help and the area in which we need help. For example, for someone, it might be easier to ask for help in moving houses than asking for help with a math problem.
In the mental health care sector many individuals do not seek support from others, this includes both professional support from doctors and psychologists, and personal support from friends and family. There are various reasons for the stigma associated with mental health: lack of awareness about mental health concerns, the cost of mental health care and their attitudes towards help seeking.
Where do our attitudes and the way we think for ourselves needing support come from?
Our attitudes are formed overtime as we are exposed to the world and make evaluations about it. Our thoughts and emotions combine to form attitudes that affect our behaviour. We have learned to make evaluations depending on our experience with the world and teachings by our loved ones.
Our world is complex where we are told that its okay if we seek certain kinds of help but other kinds of help have specific negative connotations such as being too weak, incapable of being independent (in a society that prides itself on the ability to function alone), or incapable of solving one’s own problems. This makes people afraid of judgements and of other people. They’d rather not talk about it than ask for help. .
In our current society we often tend to confuse asking for help with chronic dependency which we detest and are frustrated by. Needing help from someone does not mean an individual cannot use other means of support, and hence differs from chronic dependency.
Also putting total independence and self reliance on a pedestal and viewing it as a sign of strength makes seeking help a bad thing. This is dangerous because total self-reliance is an unrealistic goal for anybody, we are all interdependent on each other; it is how our species has survived and is ingrained in our biological makeup as much as sleeping and eating is.
So if you are looking for help and seem to feel ashamed about it, remember that this is something our society has taught us. Everyone needs help at some point in their lives, one way or another – but that does not mean we are incapable of being independent in the future. On the contrary, seeking help might actually be one of the bravest things to do in this era of independent-living. It will allow you to go one step further in this race of self-reliance. By asking for help right now, you might be equipping yourself to live a better future.
In terms of mental health, we understand that seeking help might sound like you cannot cope with your own emotions well, and according to what society says, that’s bad. However, seeking help is one of the first steps in one’s journey towards healing – it goes to show that you are capable of understanding your own needs, evaluating your own abilities and recognising the resources you have within and outside yourself. This means asking for help is a sign of being efficient!
This however doesn’t make it any easier to do, because while you may understand this, those around you may not. This might be a good time to remind yourself that prioritising your need for help is okay, even if others don’t agree. You might be seeking help from another individual but it still is your own personal journey – so your own opinion should decide whether or not you want to seek help.
Seeking help may be a well thought out decision or even one that was taken because we’ve reached our breaking point – nevertheless it is a brave decision. Here’s hoping you take this step when you feel ready or encourage someone you know to take it when they feel ready too!
Zahra is and always will be the optimist, the hoper of far-flung hopes and the dreamer of improbable dreams.She believes that imagination and stories are the greatest resources for humanity. She loves everything science fiction and likes learning about philosophy and history along with mental health of course. She cares for herself by treating herself with dark chocolate, walks and painting her versions of starry nights and yin and yang koi fish symbols.