‘I Need Help:’ How to Get the Mental Health Support You Need

Being a human is hard sometimes. Just like facing a mental health challenge is part of the human experience, so is leaning on others for support. Often, topics related to mental health can feel taboo to talk about in a social setting or even with trusted family members, making it difficult for many people to […]

isbell oliva garcia grow therapyBy Isbell Oliva-Garcia, LMHC

Updated on Jan 12, 2024

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Being a human is hard sometimes. Just like facing a mental health challenge is part of the human experience, so is leaning on others for support. Often, topics related to mental health can feel taboo to talk about in a social setting or even with trusted family members, making it difficult for many people to seek help when needed. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of mental health professionals out there who are ready to help you work through things that feel heavy, taking the pressure off when it feels tough to admit, “I need help.” 

In this article, we’re diving into what you can do if you feel like you need help, the five signs of mental illness, the first steps to finding mental health support, and how you can find a mental health professional who suits your needs.

What Should I Do if I Think I Need Help?

If you’ve made it here, you’ve likely already done what Grow Therapy counselor Alan Deibel considers to be the first step in seeking mental health support: recognizing a need for help. He says, “The first and most important thing to getting mental health help is to recognize the need for help, and to commit to it.” 

Mental illness is on the rise, with the World Health Organization reporting a 13% increase in mental health disorders in the last decade. It’s fair to say that most people encounter some form of mental illness in their lifetime, whether it’s themselves or the people closest to them.

Yet, stigma about mental illness still exists. Far too often, stigma places those with mental illness on the fringes of society, labeling them as ‘crazy.’ These preconceived notions about mental health and illness are the driving forces behind why so many people ignore their own symptoms and avoid seeking treatment. 

Deborah Harland, a Grow Therapy counselor, agrees that stigma about mental illness holds too many people back from seeking treatment. She says, “One of the greatest barriers to accessing mental health care is the stigma and societal attitudes that still surround mental health. Other barriers include limited access to mental health services, including long wait times, lack of availability in certain areas, and financial barriers.”

The bottom line? If you feel like you need help, you’re not alone.

From finding ways to improve our mental health on our own to seeking a professional opinion, there are plenty of resources out there if you’re feeling like you need help. Online resources, counselors, and other professionals are here to provide you with the support you need.

The Five Warning Signs of Mental Illness

For many people, seeking professional help often comes after identifying thoughts or feelings that are unusual or extreme. There is power in naming, and there are specific warning signs of mental illness that can help people identify symptoms and therefore seek the help they need.

These five warning signs of mental illness from the National Institute of Mental Health are a great starting point, which can help both you and your support system understand what may be going on. However, it’s important to leave the diagnosing to the professionals. 

1) Feeling Overwhelmed or a Sense of Hopelessness

Reaching a point of feeling overwhelmed or hopeless is something that many people can relate to. If you identify with feelings of overwhelm or hopelessness, having the support of a mental health professional can tremendously help you understand those feelings and where they come from.

2) Social Withdrawal or Isolation

For many people dealing with mental illness, a desire to withdraw or isolate can arise. Being around others, even those who are close to us, can feel extremely uncomfortable if we don’t feel like we’re in a good place mentally. If you notice social withdrawal within yourself or others, there is a high likelihood that mental illness is at play.

3) Sudden Change in Personality

Our personalities change throughout our lifetime, but usually at a gradual rate that isn’t noticeable from one day to the next. Many people experiencing a mental health crisis report not feeling “themselves.” Others in your life may notice these personality changes as well. 

Though it can feel uncomfortable for our friends and family to point out the changes they see, it is also a great advantage to have insight into how other people — particularly our loved ones — perceive us. For many, it can be an excellent first step in finding the mental health support they need.

4) Risky Behavior or Lack of Self-Care

Self-care is an essential part of being mentally healthy. When people engage in risky or harmful behaviors, they are neglecting their own self-care and that is cause for concern for their mental well-being.

5) Uncharacteristic Anger, Moodiness, or Anxiety

Last, but not least, severe changes in mood is a telltale sign of mental illness. If you feel like your emotions are out of control, whether it be anger, anxiety, or sadness, seeking professional help is a must.

If any of these symptoms last for two weeks or more, consider reaching out to a mental health professional for support. 

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Here are some more signs and symptoms to look out for:

What Are the Signs Someone Is Suicidal?

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention identifies the following signs that someone may be suicidal:

Find a complete list of risk factors and warning signs here.

What Are the Symptoms of Depression?

The National Institute of Mental Health identifies several symptoms of depression, including:

Lastly, thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts, are a severe sign of depression — if you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, contact the suicide and crisis hotline by dialing 988.

What Is the First Step of Getting Mental Health Help?

Reaching the information in this article is an excellent first step of getting mental health help. Seeking resources on the internet is a great way to start your journey to mental wellness. However, there are plenty of other ways to find the help you need as well.

One thing you can do right now is to practice self-care, like these tips for managing stress or staying calm when anger arises. Deibel offers some additional tips for getting mental health help. He says, “I would encourage a prospective client to do some homework on the different approaches to therapy.”

You should also consider the severity of your symptoms. If you’ve come here because you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or anything that could pose a risk to your life or someone else, then you should call 911, 988 (psychiatric emergency line), or present to the nearest ER.

Hartland also has some practical advice for those seeking mental health support. She says, “I would encourage them to reach out to a helpline or crisis hotline. These helplines are staffed by trained professionals who can provide immediate support, guidance, and resources. They can offer a listening ear, help assess the severity of the situation, and connect individuals with appropriate local services, such as therapists, counseling centers, or mental health clinics. Often a crisis line number is the first result listed from a search including red flags of a possible mental health crisis, as it gives the person a human contact that is available 24/7 for support.”

Finally, a good way to work through a mental health crisis is to seek one of our mental health professionals, who are here to listen and provide the support you need.

The Role of a Mental Health Professional 

Before choosing a mental health professional, it’s important to understand who they are and what they do. There are many types of mental health professionals out there, and each specializes in a different area of support.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness identifies over 10 different types of mental health professionals. They range from psychologists to social workers and everyone in between, and each are equipped with different tools to help their clients. For example, talk therapy with a licensed therapist can be a game-changer for people dealing with anxiety.

Remember that mental health professionals are here to support you on your journey, and finding someone that is a good fit can take time. After all, they’re people too! We recommend using Grow Therapy’s search function to find out more about different mental health professionals in your rea who accept your insurance so you can find someone suited to your unique needs.

How to Find a Mental Health Professional When You Need Help

If you feel like you need help, it’s important to seek it out from a qualified mental health professional. It can be a daunting step, but one that will help you get better.

At Grow Therapy, we offer both in-person and online mental health support. Our platform helps match people like you to professionals who specialize in your needs and are available in as little as two days. Simply specify your location, what type of support you’re looking for (online or in-person), your insurance coverage or if you’re cash pay, and what specialty you’re looking for. 

About the author
isbell oliva garcia grow therapyIsbell Oliva-Garcia, LMHC

Isbell Oliva-Garcia is a licensed mental health counselor, bilingual in English and Spanish. Isbell specializes in women's issues during difficult times of transition and also works with front-line individuals struggling with PTSD or stressors created by the job.

This article is not meant to be a replacement for medical advice. We recommend speaking with a therapist for personalized information about your mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who can offer support and address any questions or concerns. If you or your child is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should dial 9-1-1 and/or go to the nearest emergency room.

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