A 2004 report by the World Health Organization reviewed rates of psychiatric treatment usage across 37 research studies. The findings revealed that between 30 and 80 percent of people with mental health concerns never receive treatment. The study showed that more often than not, the majority of people who are dealing with real mental health issues don’t ever seek the care they need. These barriers are often even more pronounced among ethnic minority groups, older adults, and individuals with less money or education.
You may ask, “Why don’t people get help?” Some of the reasons that prevent people from obtaining needed mental health treatment are:
Shame and Fear
People with mental illness are aware of the negative stigma and discrimination associated with having a mental illness and therefore, don’t want to be labeled as mentally ill. They may fear that their mental health may negatively impact their career and education goals.
For many people with mental health, it can be difficult to reveal your personal information to a doctor or therapist. In some cultures, people express concern about “telling a stranger” or talking to a stranger about their problems as they fear the confidence may be broken.
Lack of Insight
Some people who have clear signs of a mental illness may be in denial or are unaware and say things such as, “I feel fine. There’s nothing wrong with me,” or “I don’t need any help.” This signals a lack of insight. If someone believes they are not sick, they will feel that there is no need to seek or accept treatment.
Feelings of Inadequacy
Many people with mental illness diagnosis believe they are inadequate or a failure if they have to admit something is “wrong” with their mental health. They further believe they “should be able to handle things” and think that seeking help is a sign of weakness or inferiority.
Some people have become disheartened by their mental health issues and believe “there is nothing that will help me” or “I don’t think that I’ll ever get better.” These beliefs can be due to depression and can be substantial barriers to seeking help.
Cost Of Treatment And Other Barriers
People with mental health issues may not have the ability to pay for treatment and are not aware that some therapists have sliding scale fees, or they may not have adequate health insurance. Additionally, conflict with work or education hours, child care issues, and lack of transportation can also prevent someone from seeking treatment.