Seeking Mental Health Care: Advice from People Who’ve Been There

Julie Bitely

| 4 min read

Woman looking out a window
Even though mental illness affects everyone, certain racial groups face disparities when it comes to receiving mental health help. To commemorate Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, we reached out to members of our employee resource networks to share their mental health experiences. The stories are all different, but the takeaway is largely the same: getting professional help can be life changing. Here are some of the stories that were shared.

Treatment is not a magic wand, but it works

As part of the Black community, our first respondent* acknowledges a certain amount of cultural stigma tied to mental health care. She also knows the powerful change getting help can bring about. “There are some concerns that need a little more than prayer, wishful thinking, or the ear of a friend to resolve. Treatment is not a magic wand to resolve concerns overnight. But with the right therapist, dedicated practice of coping skills, and patience, it works,” she said. Her experience is proof. She needed extra support while going through a tough divorce. She talks to a therapist several times a month and relies on mindfulness techniques, massage and Reiki to stay balanced.

Treat depression and anxiety like chronic health conditions

For nearly three decades, another has battled with severe anxiety and depression. She’s learned that willpower alone won’t help her when she’s feeling overwhelmed. She accepts that her anxiety and depression are chronic health conditions, takes medication every day, and has talk therapy sessions with a licensed psychologist every other week. She also relies on exercise, healthy food, tea, acupuncture treatments with cupping, and support from family and friends to keep her brain chemicals balanced. “Nurturing and protecting your mental health can feel like a constant struggle,” she said. “But it’s worth the effort because all forms of self-love are worth the effort. So, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor if you think you might need anti-depressants, talk therapy or a combination of those things to get your life back on track.”

There’s no shame in getting help

When she found herself checking and double-checking door locks and windows multiple times and spending an inordinate amount of time thinking about cleanliness and germs, another contributor decided to talk to someone. Counseling helped her put a name to her obsessive-compulsive disorder and what was triggering the behavior. Meditation and yoga are other coping methods she relies on to manage her condition. She urges others to put aside any fear or shame they might feel about seeking treatment. “Sometimes we normalize behaviors and miss the opportunity to address and treat the diagnosis and symptoms,” she said. “I was raised to ‘stay strong, push forward and you’ll get through.’ My father and father-in-law both worked in the social work field and demonstrated throughout my life the importance of mental health and the healing power of therapy.”

It’s okay to not be okay; seek help when you need it

After surviving a suicide attempt in 2019, another respondent spent time at a mental institution. “That moment, I realized I broke. That moment, I realized I needed help,” he said. “I never realized the hurt I placed on my family and friends but saw the love in their support in regaining my mental state.” When asked what he would share with someone contemplating a pivotal moment in their life, he said, “it’s okay to not be okay … but seek help before you make a decision like I did. Someone loves you.”

You are worth seeking help and deserve support

Trauma and life setbacks led another contributor to experience almost daily struggles with anxiety and depression over the last seven years. “The biggest problem I felt, and I’m sure that others feel, is acknowledging that your problem is something that is worth being examined and seeking aid to face it,” they wrote, continuing that anyone facing a mental health issue should know that “there are many people who care and you are not alone.” Many days still feel like a struggle although treatment and a supportive work team helps. “I’m working with my doctor to find ways to combat my depression and anxiety and we’re making progress. I am very thankful for the team I work with who is supportive and kind though they may not understand or even know of the daily battles I fight just to keep going.” If you or someone you know is in crisis, help is available by calling:
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • National Hopeline Network: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)
 Learn more about using your mental health benefits here. *We’ve chosen not to identify employees to protect their privacy. Related:
Photo credit: tommaso79
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association