When Should You Get Help From a Professional?

Your questions about mental health answered by a real therapist

Sean Patrick Murphy / Unsplash

Sean Patrick Murphy / Unsplash

Our Ask a Therapist series gets answers to your questions about mental health from real therapists. Follow @idontmind on Instagram for more and a chance to ask questions of your own.

Today’s therapist is Theresa. She’s a licensed clinical social worker and VP of Policy and Programs at Mental Health America. She also really likes cheese.

When should you get help from a professional?

If you know something isn’t quite right and the way you’re feeling is really getting in the way of how you want to live, talking to a professional can help you get back on track. Decide when you’re ready and when you feel like you have something specific that you can work through. Is it to vent, solve problems, work through a hard time or a challenging relationship? Knowing what you need or want from a therapist can help start the conversation off right.

Why do you think so many people are averse to medication and therapy? 

It’s scary to make the decision to start taking meds or go to therapy. Maybe it’s the fear of what it actually means to do these things or the fear that it might not work. Or fear of what happens when we take that leap. Making change happen is hard. It’s ok to be tentative about these decisions. The real question is whether you’re going to make any leap at all to feel better.

Talking about my mental health doesn’t change anything. I still feel the same. Why?

If talking doesn’t work, maybe something else is going on. Do you need to take a biological approach (meds, lifestyle change) or is there something underneath it all that isn’t really being addressed? Maybe you’re struggling with a different kind of mental health problem. Try taking a screen, it could help sort out what’s going on.

Where do you draw the line between being selfish and doing what’s best for you?

Perhaps the line is drawn by asking yourself if the actions you’re taking—if they’re what’s best for you—are actually selfish at all? If you’re often putting yourself last, then self care should absolutely be a priority. But if you hear from multiple people in your life—people you trust—say that you’re being selfish, maybe it’s time to self-reflect and ask them to help you clarify what actions are selfish vs self care.

Follow @idontmind on Instagram for more Ask A Therapist answers and a chance to ask questions of your own.

Content is for informational purposes only and is not meant to serve as medical advice or to replace consultation with your physician or mental health professional.