Oftentimes, individuals attempt to ignore and push away their problems in favour of saying “I’m fine.” However, this continued cycle of repressing emotions and refusing help will negatively impact one's mental health. The constant neglect and refusal to work through the problem will only lead to a worsening condition. Thus, it is important for individuals to both realise when they (or others around them) need help and also know of ways to seek help. This inability to seek help could stem from a variety of factors such as the fear of stigmatisation from surrounding individuals, an inability to realise there is something wrong, and the lack of knowledge on how to seek help.
First and foremost, it is important to recognise symptoms of mental distress in both yourself and others around you. This is probably one of the most difficult steps, given that the symptoms could be miniscule or easily brushed off as a temporary issue. However, there can be some indicators that can hint to one’s mental condition. Take some time and ask yourself:
Have you been feeling down and sad a lot recently?
Have there been excessive changes in your mood?
Do you feel a lot of guilt, fears or worries, more so than before?
Do you find yourself withdrawing from friends and activities?
Are there any changes in your eating habits or drinking habits?
Do you find yourself having any suicidal thoughts or tendencies?
If the answer is yes to any of the following, it may be worthwhile to spend some time doing some research or talking to others around you (if possible) about your changes in emotions. Though these symptoms may not necessarily indicate that there is something wrong, it is important to check up on yourself just in case these could indicate a larger burden on one’s mental psyche. It is easy to dismiss these problems, relegate them to the usual “school/work stress” or a singular “bad mood.” However, the dismissal of these problems will be more harmful to yourself in the long run, as the first step to getting help is to acknowledge and identify your problems. Of course, there are also many other symptoms out there that can allude to similar burdens, but it is important for one to realise that these symptoms exist and need to be alleviated.
Once you have become aware of your emotions, it may be ideal for you to seek help. This can be from speaking with others as well as building and identifying a good support system around you. If you are unable to seek help and support from those around you, there are many external sources of support that one can turn to. For example, in Hong Kong the government has a compiled list of helpline and community resources that one can dial to if they need help. There are many charities such as MindHK and their youth page Cool Minds which offer more information on mental health. Other websites like Open up among others offer their services to youth where they can choose to text or send an email if they need someone to talk to. Other 24/7 hotlines (many of which are listed in the previous helpline and community resources page) are also available if one wants to have a chat. Though these may seem like extreme courses of action to some, by talking to others one can begin to alleviate the burden that may be festering in their heart. Beyond this, seeking professional help from perhaps a school counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist may also be a necessary step as they can offer professional advice and understanding of one’s troubles. The thought of reaching out to a stranger may seem intimidating, but it will definitely help you feel much better and is a good first step to learning more about how to heal yourself. Alongside that, these individuals will have a lot of expertise and will be glad to provide you with help and advice on how to proceed without any judgement.
Long story short, it is extremely important to be aware of the status of your own mental health and continually check for signs of stress. Keeping all these feelings locked up will only serve more harm than good in the long run. It is never too early nor shameful to seek help from others, as there are a multitude of ways that one can talk to others and get help. If you notice that someone around you has been exhibiting similar symptoms, perhaps it could be worthwhile for you to check up on them and/or ask them how you can help better support them. Though they may initially refuse these offers, it is still important to show that you are there to help them and can offer them support if necessary.
We hope that if you need help you will reach out accordingly or also feel free to direct message us on our instagram account. Though we may be unable to offer professional advice, MindcologyHK is still here to help and support you!