While dealing with mental health issues is something that’s becoming more and more normalized in mainstream media, there’s still a lot of stigma surrounding it.
That can make some people hesitate to take the appropriate steps that can help them deal with what’s troubling them, and unfortunately, that can sometimes make the problems they’re facing worse.
If you’re struggling with severe mental health issues, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone.
Mental health problems are more common than you might think, and there are some key steps you should take if this is something you’re struggling with.
1. Seek Treatment
The first and most important step you should take if you’re struggling with severe mental health issues is to seek treatment. Mental health problems can be just as debilitating as physical health problems, and they deserve the same level of care.
A good place to start is a mental health treatment center—it’s similar to hospitalization, but it offers a more pleasant community-based setting in which you can safely start your recovery process.
A lot of the time, it can be hard to talk about these things with loved ones—sometimes due to the stigma surrounding mental health, and other times because they simply aren’t supportive.
A health care facility will provide you with the initial support system you need, as well as professional guidance and resources.
Once you feel comfortable moving on from that stage, going to therapy sessions a few times a week—or however often you and your therapist decide is optimal for you—is a great way to stay the course and continue making progress.
2. Don’t Compare Yourself To Others
Sure, it can be argued that some mental health conditions are more severe than others. However, it’s important that you don’t compare yourself to others.
Many mental health problems are exacerbated by the idea that you don’t have the right to feel this way because there’s no real reason to, or because someone else has it worse. That line of thinking is not only harmful, but it’s also untrue.
Your mental health should be taken care of regardless of how “serious” your specific condition may be. Your feelings are valid, and it doesn’t make you weak to admit that you need help.
It’s also important to remember that, for a lot of conditions that are traditionally considered severe, one of the common symptoms is self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy.
Don’t let these negative thoughts take hold—you are just as deserving of treatment and help as anyone else.
3. Recognize Your Triggers
While triggers are usually discussed in the context of addiction, this is not the only mental health issue that can be worsened by them—far from it.
It’s important to take the time to recognize your triggers. This can be anything from a person, place, thing, or situation that sets off your symptoms.
Once you’ve identified your triggers, you can start to take steps to avoid them—or at least be prepared for them when they do occur.
If you’re struggling with an ED, for example, and you know that seeing thin models in magazines is a trigger for you, make a point to avoid those types of publications.
If you’re struggling with anxiety, and you know that being in large crowds is a trigger for you, try to stay away from places where there will be a lot of people.
It’s not always possible to completely avoid these situations, which is why you should work with your therapist to develop a plan for how to deal with them when they do pop up.
Eventually, you might even find that you’re growing desensitized to your triggers and they have less of an effect on you.
4. Make A List Of Your Coping Mechanisms
Once you’ve identified your triggers and taken steps to avoid them, it’s time to start thinking about your coping mechanisms. These are the things you do to help yourself feel better when you’re experiencing symptoms.
Everyone’s different, so what works for one person might not work for another. Some common coping mechanisms include things like exercises, journaling, and deep breathing exercises.
It’s important to have a few different ones in your toolkit so that you can mix and match depending on the situation.
For example, if you’re feeling anxious at work, going for a run might not be possible. However, you could do some deep breathing exercises or write in your journal to help yourself calm down.
Experiment until you find what works for you, and don’t be afraid to ask for help from a therapist or other mental health professional if you’re having trouble finding ways to cope.
If you’re struggling with severe mental health issues, it’s important to take care of yourself.
First, educate yourself on your condition and what resources are available to you.
Second, don’t compare yourself to others—your feelings are valid and you deserve help.
Third, recognize your triggers and take steps to avoid them.
Finally, make a list of your coping mechanisms so you can mix and match them depending on the situation.