Seeking Help Early

Why seek help early?

  • It can be difficult to know when a problem is serious enough to speak to someone. You might be concerned about the person you are talking to judging you, or trying to intervene when you’d prefer to sort things out for yourself. While you might prefer to wait until a problem is serious before you seek help, the fact of the matter is that as we become more distressed, we are less likely to seek help. Talking about our problems becomes harder because we start to believe that no one can help us overcome the problem we are facing.

Challenges to seeking help

  • Not having anyone to talk to about the things which worry you the most.

  • Wanting to solve problems on your own.

  • Feeling embarrassed, uncomfortable, scared or stupid about the idea of seeking help. 

  • Concerns about confidentiality or your parents finding out.

  • Hoping the problem will resolve on its own. 

  • Not knowing much about mental health, or whether the problem is serious enough. 

  • Not knowing how to access mental health services.

  • Negative experiences when you tried to get  help in the past.

  • Not being able to get help for practical reasons (e.g. not enough money, waiting times, or living in a rural area). 

Knowing when to seek help

Lots of people have trouble figuring out whether the problem they are facing is a normal part of growing up, or a sign they need help from someone else.  Even once it becomes obvious that a problem is serious, many of us still prefer to try to solve problems on our own. This can be a good solution for everyday challenges (e.g., study stress, deciding whether to ask someone on a date). However, waiting to seek help for more serious problems (e.g. depression for more than two weeks, eating disorders thoughts of self-injury, etc.) can lead to things getting worse and making it harder to talk to someone about it in the long run.

There are some things you can do to make it easier to figure out when a problem is serious:

  • Find information on mental health issues so that you can recognise the signs that someone should seek help.  

  • Increase your self-awareness. This makes it easier to communicate to others what’s going on inside your head. 

  • Build your mental fitness, so that you can cope when your emotions come up. 

  • Don’t ever feel silly about going to see your doctor about something that’s bothering you. If it’s bothering you enough to consider going to the doctor, it’s probably worthwhile.