Coping in Isolation: A Cry For Help

 

By: Jessica Satya Graha

Edited by: Kumaran Manivannan

Society has come a long way regarding the topic of mental health. There are many services that are constantly promoted on various platforms that advocate for our well-being. In 2019, WHO launched the WHO Special Initiative for Mental Health (2019-2023): Universal Health Coverage for Mental Health to ensure access to quality and affordable care for mental health conditions in 12 priority countries to 100 million more people. There are several helplines and organisations that are just a mere phone call away, such as Beyond Blue, Better Help, Headspace, and Lifeline, to name a few. Yet... why is mental health still an ever-growing issue?

Why is it that even though we have these services at the ready, the world is still facing a mental health crisis? Why is it that even though we have help right at our fingertips, we decide to remain silent?

Because even though the destination may be in sight, the road to help may be bumpy. We may face many red lights, be stopped by many roadblocks, and our GPS may require us to take alternate routes because of many unforeseen accidents. Seeking help is the first, but often the hardest step to accomplish for many people.

Even though countless extrinsic factors may inhibit many people from seeking help, sometimes the barriers we face are intrinsic. These internal hurdles and dark thoughts encircle our minds and make it difficult to take the first step forward. If we become aware of them, we become one step closer to overcoming them.

1. Now is not a good time...

When people are trying to seek help because of their mental health, they are usually reaching out during their darkest moments. The toughest time. When we’re at our lowest, we may not have the capacity to think straight, our judgment may be compromised, and it is often difficult to know where to turn even though the answers may be right in front of us.

2. Fear of judgement

Mental health conditions are invisible to the eye. They can be the deadliest of them all. Their invisibility allows them to remain unnoticed by the crowd, yet a parasite to our own minds. They are real medical conditions that occur due to biological processes. Yet the stigma still remains that they are "fake illnesses." We often don't treat it with the same severity as physical illness, and sometimes the solution that we receive is to grow up and smile.

When somebody has asthma, we don't say "Just breathe."

When somebody gets a leg fracture, we don't say "Just walk."

The stigma and shame associated with mental illness can make people feel embarrassed or ashamed to talk about their struggles. Others may believe that they can handle their problems on their own or that seeking help is a sign of weakness. However, seeking help for mental health concerns is a sign of strength and courage; the willingness to acknowledge when you need help, and the will to seek it.

3. I'm not sick enough

With many mental illnesses, people can often downplay their concerns. Sometimes we feel that our struggles are mediocre, and at times, we may feel invalidated by those around us. We say to ourselves:

"They have it worse than me."

"They are on medication, and I'm not."

"I've never been hospitalised."

The dark side of mental illness surrounds the comparison between others. At times, it can turn into a competition where we think that losing is actually winning. Nobody will say it, but at times, it's like we are collecting badges. We believe that only once we have collected more badges, then... and only then... we will finally try to seek help.

The First Steps

  1. Reach out to a mental health professional, such as a therapist or counsellor. They are trained to help people navigate difficult emotions and experiences and can provide guidance and support in developing coping strategies and enhancing social support. They provide a safe and confidential space where individuals can explore their thoughts and feelings without judgment.
  2. Utilise online resources, such as mental health apps and websites. These resources can provide information, support, and self-help tools.
  3. Consider any resources you may have access to. If you’re a student, there’s a good chance that your institution makes counselling and other services available to you for free.
  4. Contact helplines and organisations, such as Beyond Blue, Better Help, Headspace, and Lifeline. These organisations offer a range of services, including counselling, crisis support, and referrals to other resources.
  5. Talk to trusted friends and family members. They can provide emotional support and help connect you with resources.
  6. Get help with other aspects of your life. It is difficult enough dealing with mental health, so being able to alleviate other duties of life can make the process easier. There are often free services available to help lift the burden for a short while.

It is important to remember that seeking help for mental health concerns is not a one-size-fits-all solution. There are many different types of mental health professionals and treatment options available, and it may take time to find the right fit. However, with patience, persistence, and support, it is possible to find the help that is needed to manage mental health concerns and improve overall well-being.

The Mindset Shift

We aren't meant to succeed in this life independently. All our actions involve countless people. At times, we act stubborn and mask it as stoicism and register any sort of call for help as a weakness. From the beginning of civilisation, human beings collaborated with one another. They had different skills, abilities, crops, resources, and medicines. They worked in unity for survival. So, why should asking for help mean we are weak?

It's okay to not be the expert in everything.

It's okay to rely on your social network.

It's okay to take time off work/school.

It's okay to cry for help.