Even if people can acknowledge to themselves that they are suffering from stress, anxiety or other mental health problems, opening up can be a challenge. It’s often the case that speaking with friends and family about such a difficult topic is off-limits. This may be because people worry about what reaction they will get once they are honest about their feelings or because they don’t want to hurt people around them.
Often, it’s easier to speak with a professional. This is partly because they are strangers, but also because healthcare workers are experienced in providing support. Online psychiatric nurse practitioner programs at Wilkes teaches students to give people confidence when opening up about their mental health struggles. Trainees can study flexibly at their own pace and even receive on the job experience during a clinical placement.
Unfortunately, in many cases, a refusal to speak frankly is more entrenched and even extends to confiding in nurses or doctors. People’s concerns can be rooted in a range of social and personal factors.
Mental health is wrongly considered to be a sign of weakness
Telling people at work that you experience mental health problems is often seen as a risk. This is because it can lead to questions about a person’s ability to cope and be as capable as the rest of the team. No one wants to be considered the weakest link and this leaves people with no choice but to keep their problems to themselves. Ironically, speaking up, then taking a step back and having time off work could help.
Personal issues become public knowledge
No one wants to be left out or made to feel exposed, but gossip is something that some of us deal with better than others. For anyone with elevated levels of anxiety, the thought of being spoken about can be highly stressful. To avoid rumors beginning to circulate amongst family, friends and colleagues, people may prefer to hide their struggles. Once their problems are publicly known, a person may worry about being treated differently or even avoided by some. They may also have concerns that others will make a big deal of the news and may even become unpleasant towards them.
A lack of understanding
Not many people are well informed when it comes to mental health and this makes life difficult for those who are affected. They may suggest the problem is not that bad and fail to take mental health seriously. Attitudes like these can lead to impractical advice such as ‘think positive’ or ‘pull yourself together', which is of no help to someone who needs guidance and understanding.
Excellent support can change attitudes
Ideally, anyone suffering from a mental health problem should feel confident in revealing their feelings. Healthcare professionals should be seen as a valuable source of support to these people. Their expert advice and guidance can have a hugely positive impact and hopefully make people feel more confident about seeking help in future.