In a given year, about one in every four adults is diagnosed with a mental health condition. However, less than half of these numbers receive treatment in recent years. While mental health care continues to improve, several factors still affect access to mental health counseling. The type of person, their environment, and society are some of these factors.
Fears That Make People Avoid Mental Health Programs
You would usually have the initiative and the courage to seek the help you need. But it is not always easy, especially if you are suffering from a mental health condition. One of the reasons why people fail to receive mental health counseling is fear. This fear can make you focus on the possible negative outcomes than the advantages of mental health programs.
1. Fear Of Stigma Towards Needing Mental Health Counseling
Despite mental health awareness programs and advocacies, the stigma towards people who need mental health care instills fear and hesitation within victims. Sadly, traditional views still consider mental health conditions as a product of being weak or crazy. Victims of abuse and trauma are also likely to be perceived negatively by society once they attend counseling.
2. Fear Of Being Judged Or Misunderstood
Family, friends, and community play a huge part in providing support for people with mental health conditions. If they have negative attitudes or opinions about counseling, a victim may feel afraid of being judged or misunderstood by their loved ones. This lack of social support may discourage people from seeking help. A supportive and nurturing environment is important for a victim to have a safe space for healing.
3. Fear Of Provoking Painful Emotions
Living with a mental health condition is associated with many strong and painful emotions. Some people may even suffer from deeply traumatic or distressing events that are difficult to process or relive. Healing from these may seem too difficult, especially when you have to confront painful emotions. Because of this, victims prefer not to seek counseling.
4. Fear Of Vulnerability
Mental health care treatment requires you to open yourself up to a counselor. Some people may find it uncomfortable to discuss personal issues with a stranger. Establishing trust is an important step in the therapeutic process. This is helpful when opening up about personal information and feelings.
5. Fear Of Embarrassment
Getting mental health counseling is often associated with inferiority or incompetence. Seeking help may negatively affect a person’s self-esteem and lead to feelings of inadequacy. To keep a positive self-image, patients try to cope with their condition independently despite needing professional help.
6. Fear Of Treatment
It is a natural human response to stay away from danger or challenges. The feelings of fear that counseling may provoke can make a victim feel like seeking help will not be worth it. They become skeptical of the benefits of seeking treatment as the risks or stakes rise.
Biases Against Mental Health
A person’s demographics and situation influence their ability to seek mental health counseling. Some cultures are more proactive when it comes to mental health care, while others remain conservative. Within a community, some people are more likely to seek help compared to others.
1. Sex And Gender Biases
Both biological sex and specific gender roles can influence a person’s openness to seek mental health counseling. Men are less likely to seek help, especially for less severe conditions. Since they are expected to show independence and control, seeking help may signify weakness or incompetence. To avoid feelings of insecurity, some men avoid treatment entirely.
2. Age And Generational Biases
Age can also influence whether people feel good about seeking professional help. There are more mental health advocates among the younger people. This makes them more open to receiving treatment, while their older counterparts remain more reluctant towards counseling.
3. Racial And Ethnic Biases
Cultural norms, beliefs, and values within a person’s race or ethnicity remain huge factors when discussing mental health care. Some cultures perceive mental health care negatively. They brush any mental health problems aside or refuse to ask for help from family and friends. They might promote purely relying on faith and positivity rather than seeking professional help.
Technical Limitations Of Mental Health Counseling
Despite its improvement over the years, the mental healthcare system still has limitations. Around the world, many people in need of mental health care lack access to high-quality counseling. Here are a few barriers to the mental health system:
1. Shortage Of Human Resources
One challenge in mental healthcare is the shortage of licensed and certified mental health workers. After all, how can we provide high-quality mental health services if there are not enough healthcare providers? To answer this limitation, trained health workers can share some clinical duties. In this model, certified counselors could supervise, support, and maintain the quality of services that all health workers provide.
2. Fragmented Service Delivery Models
The mental healthcare system focuses on curing mental illnesses. While this diagnosis-and-treatment model has helped many people with mental conditions, it does not address the root cause. Just like in other fields of health, prevention and early intervention should be the primary goal. To make this happen, counselors can focus on the vulnerable population, such as women, people with disabilities, and the military.
Lack Of Research Implementation And Policy Change
Research on mental health can provide promising trends in the prevention and intervention of mental disorders. However, current research often focuses on testing treatments for a single diagnosis. For example, specific research only focuses on how effective cognitive-behavioral therapy is for people with anxiety or post-traumatic stress. Instead, mental healthcare research should cater to everyone in need of treatment.
To help improve research implementation, counselors should focus on improving the delivery of mental healthcare. Counselors and psychologists can use the research to develop and test policies for mental health. Eventually, changing the policies of mental health delivery will not only lessen their burden. They can guarantee that everyone who needs mental and emotional support can get the help they need.