Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Talking to a professional about mental health and wellbeing concerns will help you to help yourself. Whether or not you need professional support can only be decided by you and a trained mental health provider.
To help you decide if you may need professional support, ask yourself these questions:
Have you felt sad or depressed most of the time for longer than two weeks?
Have you been feeling anxious or had distressing thoughts almost all the time?
Have you had trouble working or meeting your daily responsibilities?
Have you had problems in your relationships, or trouble taking care of your family?
Have you increased your use of alcohol, illicit drugs, or prescription medications, or have you been using them to cope with your problems lately?
Are you very angry most of the time?
Do other people say they worry about you and think you should go talk to someone?
Are you very angry most of the time?
Do other people say they worry about you and think you should go talk to someone?
Are you having trouble sleeping most of the time?
Are you having trouble eating, or have you gained or lost weight without trying?
Are you thinking about committing suicide, hurting, or killing someone else?
If you said yes to this last one, please call 111 or go immediately to the nearest hospital emergency department.
If you said yes to any of the others, you would probably benefit from talking with a mental health provider. Contact your GP or a mental health professional. If you are current member of the NZDF (uniformed or civilian), family member, or veteran you can call the NZDF4U wellbeing support helpline 0800 693 348 for confidential advice. If you are a veteran you can also call the VANZ help line 08004VETERANS. You don't have to wait for an emergency to speak to someone. Family members can access community support services accessible through chaplains and defence community support officers.
Why do people usually seek professional help?
Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Talking to a professional about mental health and wellbeing concerns will help you to help yourself. Displaying the courage to do this is squarely in the centre of the NZDF’s values and strengths.
Getting this sort of support will help you to feel better within yourself, and just as importantly help you feel more relaxed about connecting with people in your daily life, pursuing your goals, and focusing on your future. Your GP is generally the best place to start. Current NZDF personnel can self-refer to their local Psychology section or a Medical officer.
Will it really work?
Scientific evidence shows that many types of therapy and medications are effective. Within the health care system, many mental health providers are trained in providing these evidence-based treatments. It may be hard to imagine now, but you can work through mental health problems or any other hurdles and come out the other side stronger.
Worried that support providers won’t be able to help you or won’t understand what you’ve been through? You may be surprised to discover they have worked with people before who have been through similar circumstances. You will find out that they can help, and will work hard to understand you and your experiences, no matter what they have been. Counsellors are highly trained mental health providers. Some specialise in working with military personnel and veterans.
If you have a few sessions with a counsellor and you don't think it's going well, you can talk to the counsellor or your doctor about what you want changed or you can ask for a different counsellor. Counsellors are focused on your recovery and will help you get the care you need.
What about practical things like making appointments, costs and transport?
When thinking about professional counselling, many people worry about practical things that might keep them from getting help. Concerns about how to find a counsellor, the cost of treatment, getting time off work, and transport to appointments are very common. each is addressed briefly below-
A good place to start is to ask your doctor for a referral. If you are an NZDF member your closest Garrison Health Service can assist you with referral to a mental health provider. Military and civilian members can also access up to six confidential face-to-face counselling sessions through EAP (0800 693348). If you are a veteran or the partner of a veteran, you can also call VANZ 24 hours a day on 08004VETERANS to find a local mental health provider with experience working with veterans.
You may be able to access mental health care at no cost. For serving Defence members, free access to treatment and support is available via Garrison Health Services and EAP (members of the civil staff) and referral to VANZ. Alternatively, opportunities to access subsidised counselling under the Public Health care system can be discussed with your GP.
If you need flexible appointments so you do not miss work, look for a counsellor that will work with your schedule. You need to find a good time where you won't feel rushed. Most employers will understand and help you take care of your health, whether it’s physical or emotional. Often, people work out a flexible schedule with their boss to free up time for their appointment.
Some people have problems getting to and from appointments. Ex-serving members may be eligible to access transport assistance through VANZ. If this is not available to you, public transport may be an option or getting a lift with someone. Maybe you could arrange to borrow a vehicle. Consider all your options. You might be surprised at how many people will take the time to help you get to an appointment
What does it say about me if I ask for help?
It says you are resilient, even when you’re under pressure, and even when you don’t feel resilient. Remember: no one is alone in this world. People are here to help. Perhaps you believe that you should be able to handle your problems without help from others. The truth is people who use the sources of help around them are able to cope better than those who choose not to. Trying to cope on your own often makes things harder than needed. It can also add loneliness and isolation to your problems.
We’ve heard some people say they thought that needing help meant they were not normal. Some people have also wrongly believed that seeking help meant that they were not fit to do normal things. They learned however that it is not unusual to have problems. Many people report some type of concern about their mental health during their lives, and particularly so after stressful experiences.
Don’t feel guilty about taking time to get yourself well. There’s hardly a higher priority. You will be better able to live a fulfilling life if you are feeling better—and be better able to support the people you care about as well.
Talking about your experiences helps. Getting the support you need to live your life more fully shows strength, self-respect and courage.
What if I'm embarrassed about seeking help?
We get it. There’s no reason to feel embarrassed but our feelings don’t necessarily always respond immediately to reason. You don’t have to tell people that you’re working with a counsellor. You can just say you have an appointment and that it’s personal.
Try not to be upset with friends or family who worry about you. Take it as a sign that they care and want the best for you and are probably looking for ways to help. Remember too that when you’re already feeling off key it is harder to reasonably read the reactions of other people. If you know they care about you, they are probably trying to show it… even if it doesn’t feel like it.
Sometimes people worry others will make fun of them for getting help, because at one point they have overheard someone making fun of someone in your situation. But you’ll soon find out that this usually isn’t true. Many men and women who served in the military have reported some concern about their mental health.
Expecting embarrassment and shame for asking for help is one of the main reasons why people don't seek help. You might ask yourself the following question: Is it more important for me to worry about what someone else thinks of me? Or is it important to get the help I need to move on with my life?
Who can help me?
As you think about getting care, know that there are many experts to help you. In this section, you can read about the roles and duties of GPs, psychologists, psychiatrists, and mental health social workers.
A general practitioner is also called a GP. A GP is a medical doctor with a degree to diagnose and treat common medical and psychological problems. GPs are a good first contact to help you find the services you need. A GP may prescribe medicine to help with psychological problems and also may refer you to other people who can assist you. They can refer you to an expert like a psychologist, psychiatrist or mental health social worker, who can help you better address your problems. You can find a GP, through recommendations from people you know, or via a referral from another health provider. If you need medical attention, a prescription, or a referral to a specialist, then your GP is the best place to start
Clinical Psychologists work with clients who have serious mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, and substance use problems. Psychologists work with singles, couples, families and groups. They have the ability to assess, diagnose and treat complex problems relating to mental health. Psychologists are not medical doctors and cannot prescribe medicine. Their role is to provide assessment and counselling.
There are psychologists in the community and working throughout Defence and Veterans’ Affairs health care systems. You can find a psychologist through advice from people you know, referrals from a GP, or from another mental health provider. The New Zealand Psychological Society also provides a ‘find a psychologist’ service as does the New Zealand College of Clinical Psychologists. Eligible serving members and ex-serving members may also be able to find a psychologist through VANZ.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who treat a variety of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, substance use problems, and severe mental illnesses. Psychiatrists primarily treat patients with medications that can help with symptoms of mental illness and other related problems (like sleep). Some psychiatrists also provide talk therapy. Psychiatrists work in the community and within the Defence and Veterans’ Affairs health care systems. You can find a psychiatrist through advice from people you know, or via a mental health provider, but it is important to get a referral from your GP.
4 TIPS: When to reach out for Professional mental health help? | Kati Morton
Today I want to talk with you about
when it's important to reach out for professional help.
I got a question in a Monday video a few weeks ago
that I thought was really important
and something that I hadn't addressed in a video directly.
And that is, when do when do we know that our mental health
has reached a crisis level?
And when do we need to reach out for professional help?
And the truth of it is that it can be really difficult for you to discern.
Oftentimes, we'll go through periods where we don't quite feel like ourselves
or we can feel down
or we can have moments of anxiety
but when is it important that we get professional help?
The first question that I want you to answer for yourself is
does this bother you most days?
That's something that I take into consideration
for myself whether I should be going back to therapy.
Like, am I ruminating about this most days?
Does this bother me most days?
Am I feeling depressed most days?
Am I struggling with eating most days?
Am I feeling really anxious most days?
You can put in whatever symptoms you're feeling
and think if it's bothering you most of the days.
The second question that I want you to answer for yourself,
is it impairing your ability to function?
This could be at work, this could be at school,
this could be your ability to concentrate and remember things,
to engage with friends and family.
Is it imparing you in any way?
Do you find yourself struggling to get up
or get showered or get ready for work or school?
Are any of those things being impaired?
'Cause that's sign number two that you should probably reach out for help.
The third question, and this one rings true for me, oh my God, so much,
and that is, do you find yourself being overly emotional in situations that don't call for it?
This could be anything. I'll speak from personal experience
that I will cry at sad commercials. We're not even talking full movies.
I'm talking commercials. It happens like "poof!"
Or, if someone asks me how I'm doing, and they're actually a close friend of mine,
for me just beginning to talk about what's going on,
I'm like "woah!" and I can't even handle myself.
And that is a sign for me. I'm like,
"I gotta call Janna and get back to therapy 'cause shit's not good."
So the fourth tip is that if you have answered "yes" to any of those questions that I posed,
please get help as soon as possible.
This can be making an appointment with your GP, your primary care doctor, whatever,
in order to get a proper referral.
You also may want to see your doctor and get checked out
and make sure it's not coming from a medical condition.
But please contact someone, get a referral,
rip off that band-aid and make that call.
I know it's really scary and it can feel really overwhelming
and we don't know, what if we don't like the person,
or what if we haven't been in therapy before
or seen a professional in any capacity?
Is it--how's it going to be?
And I have tons of videos on that, and I will link it here
and I'll put some playlists in the description for these
because I think it's really important that we recognize
that it's always scary to do things for the first time, but I promise you,
therapy and seeing a professional is never as scary as we imagine.
We're people who spend our whole lives training and educating ourselves
to help you and to be empathetic and [music starts] understanding and listen.
And so the whole process, I promise to you, is never as scary as we think it's gonna be.
So please reach out for help.
And if you're new to my channel, click here to subscribe
and make sure you like this video.
It's so important that we share mental health information
and tell YouTube how important mental health is.
And if you're not a member of the community,
hop into the comments and get the conversation started.
The wonderful thing about the Kinyon community
is that we're helping each other by sharing our experience
and together we learn more and we feel better.
So I will see you next time!
Subtitles by the Amara.org community
You can read more about the support offered by NZDF Providers and how to contact them here.