There is a stigma associated with mental illness. It is often only mentioned in hushed voices and those struggling with mental health problems often feel ashamed and afraid to discuss it. To get help with mental health issues, it’s important to remember that many others share your situation.
Suffering in Silence
The website Mental Health America estimates that over 54 million Americans suffer from some form of a mental disorder in a given year. Because of the stigma still associated with mental illness, many people are afraid to seek treatment and may find family members confused or in denial about their illness. This can cause a delay in treatment and allow the disease to progress, negatively impacting their lives and those of everyone around them.
It is important to obtain mental health help right away, when symptoms first appear. This can be difficult because those with a mental illness may not recognize their symptoms; they may not want to upset family members; and they may be afraid of facing harsh judgments, or even fear losing their job. There are many ways to get help discreetly.
Related: Five Techniques for Self-Acceptance
The first person to turn to when you or a loved one is dealing with a mental disorder is a trusted doctor. A physician is a source of information for the best place to start for treatment. A doctor can refer you to a specialist trained to deal with many types of mental illness.
Having someone acknowledge your illness and point you in the direction of treatment (because most mental disorders are highly treatable) can be an enormous relief.
If you have a loved one who is dealing with a mental illness, the first step to take is acceptance and understanding that many mental illnesses are rooted in a physical cause and is an illness. They may require medication, therapy or counseling and, most importantly, your love and support.
For Veterans and Their Families
Many veterans return from serving their country with invisible wounds. There are no specific medical tests to diagnose mental illness and it can only be determined by an evaluation by a mental health practitioner. After a visit with the family doctor, veterans and their families should look to these agencies for help:
Military One Source
This is a free service provided by the Department of Defense and a great place to start. There is someone available to talk to round the clock. Call
The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Mental Health Resources
This government agency provides care for veterans with physical and mental issues.
- VA Mental Health connects veterans to mental health services the VA has for veterans and their families. All programs support recovery to enable veterans to cope with their illness and live meaningful lives again.
- Vet Centers are community-based centers that provide counseling and referral services to veterans to help them re-adjust to life after combat.
Everyone in Need Should Get Mental Health Help
Finding someone to talk to who can understand what you are going through is a good first step toward recovery. These agencies can help:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) any time, day or night, to talk to a trained crisis worker privately.
SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline
You can get general information about a variety of mental health issues in your community from a live person, weekdays from 8 AM to 8 PM at 1-877-AAMHSA7, or 1-877-726-4727.
You don’t have to face mental illness alone. It is treatable and nothing to be ashamed of. Get the mental health help you need and deserve by taking the first step and asking for assistance.