Asking for Help
Written by Lauryn Evans
Reaching out for help can be difficult. It can feel scary, vulnerable, and confusing. Sometimes we cannot do things alone and need extra support, yet we need to figure out where to start or who to turn to. Realizing that you need help means you have the awareness to recognize that you cannot do this alone; for that first step, please be proud.
Asking for help often starts with having a conversation – who this conversation is with is up to you. Speaking to someone you trust, feel safe with, and can sit in vulnerability with is important. This can be a friend, a family member, or even someone in your workplace. When we try to contain our emotions by pushing our challenging and unwanted emotions away, all we are doing is creating distance with something that will inevitably come back. These are not experiences that we must go through alone. If you can, lean on your support system and let them help you carry all you are feeling and experiencing.
There are times when we may need more help than what our support system can offer us, which can also be difficult to navigate. While a support system is greatly beneficial, sometimes, we need to seek help from a licensed professional. There is a certain stigma that surrounds mental health, and these notions can make it challenging to acknowledge that we need help and can further inhibit us from reaching out. Seeking help from a professional, such as a therapist, a psychiatrist, or a support group, is a courageous thing to do, and for many of us, it can also be a necessity.
Self-awareness is important in recognizing you need extra support. The Jed Foundation (2000) highlights warning signs for serious mental health challenges:
“Warning Signs: Mood Changes
- Feeling sad or “down” for long periods without a specific reason for the feeling, like the loss of a loved one
- Noticeable mood changes from very high, like euphoria, to very low, like deep sadness or depression
- Constantly or excessively worrying about a stressful event or incident
- Feeling empty or apathetic about aspects of life
- Outbursts of anger, hostility, or violence
- Having trouble relating to others’ thoughts and feelings or feeling empathetic and understanding of others
Warning Signs: Behavioral Changes
- Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
- Engaging in self-injury behaviors, like cutting
- Feeling like you’ve “lost time” or have large gaps in memory
- Withdrawing from friends, family members, or social activities that you once enjoyed
- Experiencing delusions or beliefs in things that aren’t real
- Experiencing hallucinations or sensory experiences that feel real but are not. For example, hearing voices no one else can hear or feeling things crawling on your skin.
Warning Signs: Physical Changes
- Sudden sweating, nausea, increased heart rate, or troubled breathing along with intense worry or fear
- Disturbed sleeping patterns, either sleeping too much or too little
- Feeling fatigued regardless of how much sleep you get
- Noticeable changes in sex drive or sexual activity, including engaging in risky sexual behavior
- Noticeable changes in eating behaviors. For example, restricting your eating or binge eating, feeling fearful of foods for no apparent reason, or having body image issues related to weight or eating.”
While these are warning signs, it does not mean you are in immediate danger of experiencing a mental health crisis. However, they may be used as an indicator of experiencing emotional distress. If you recognize these warning signs, take a moment to check in with yourself and how you are feeling, notice what has been occupying your mind, and feel where these emotions and experiences lay in your body. You do not need to be in an active crisis to reach out for help; resources for mental health does not always function as only a preventive measure but also as self-care. If you feel you need extra support, please reach out for help.
Location: Anderson Hall – AH153
Mental health warning signs and when to ask for help: Jed. The Jed Foundation. (2021, July 29). Retrieved March 12, 2023, from https://jedfoundation.org/resource/mental-health-warning-signs-and-when-to-ask-for-help/