“TV, movies and social media often portray only certain people going to meet with a mental health professional leading people to think they have to experience some kind of crisis, be on the edge of a breakdown or feel “crazy,” to get yourself into counseling but that is just not true.”Andres Jaramillo, LPC
It is unacceptable that we think counseling is just for those extreme cases and need to remember that practicing good mental health habits is just as important as taking care of your physical health. One often overlooked way to take care of your mental health, is to reach out for help.
Adapted from an article published in “Psychology Today”, here are five signs to help you decide if you should seek counseling:
- Feeling “not yourself” – We all have times where our mood is “off,” and we turn to things that help us feel better but when we begin to think, “this isn’t like me,” you may need to take a closer look. Sometimes we feel sad, angry or annoyed with things that happen but when it gets to a point where you conclude that this is out of your ordinary, it could be something more than just everyday emotions.
- You can’t do the things you like to do – Having hobbies or activities that you love to do can be a great way to balance your mental health, but it is important to look for signs that the way you are feeling is making it difficult or impossible to do them anymore. Again, if it is unlike you and you find it more and more difficult to get out, have fun or be social then you should reach out to get screened or assessed for possible mental health concerns.
- Using drugs, alcohol, food or sex to feel better – Just like having hobbies that can help us feel better, sometimes we engage in unhealthy habits to do the same thing and that is never a good idea. If you find yourself using drugs, alcohol, food or sex to feel better, have the desire to cut back, or it is impacting your daily life then beginning counseling could be helpful to make sure you reduce the long term negative effects.
- You’ve lost someone or something important to you – Perhaps your family or culture has certain rituals, traditions or expectations when it comes to the death of a loved one. Human beings adapt very well and sometimes your natural supports are all you need to get through loss, but other times, it could be a good idea to reach out for counseling for support with adjusting to the unexpected change. Remember, loss isn’t just about death. It could be a separation or break up, moving, or losing your job.
- Something traumatic has happened – Trauma can be any event that you thought was awful, scary or threatening like an accident, injury, sudden death, abuse, violence or natural disaster. Experiencing events like these are linked to a higher risk of substance use, chronic health problems, and mental health disorders like depression or anxiety. The sooner you reach out for help to get through events like these the better you will be, but remember it is never too late.
If you, or anyone has thoughts or feelings of wanting to hurt themselves please reach out as quickly as you can. Remember, through reaching out for help you are just taking care of your mental health, and taking care of your mental health is just as essential as taking care of your physical health.