Anxiety affects approximately 18% of adults in the United States, according to Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Of those sufferers, only 37% receive treatment. That leaves millions of people battling anxiety on their own. But why? Even with the rise in mental health awareness in our nation, still a number of issues build up into a wall that keeps people away from the help they need.
The stigma of having an anxiety disorder (or any mental illness) is enough to keep people from hiding it. They fear what other people will think. They fear they will be undesirably labeled and thus rejected. Embarrassment and shame rising from this stigma only trigger more anxiety, which doesn’t help matters at all. Instead of reaching out, people stuff their problems inside. They convince themselves that they can handle their problems on their own. While many people are trying to change the bad stigma around anxiety disorders, there is still much work to be done to overcome the mindset of millions of people.
Lack of Money or Insurance Coverage
According to a study published by Psychiatric Services, adults with serious psychological distress (SPD) were more likely to lack money for medication or mental health care, be unable to work, and lack health coverage than adults without SPD. This means that people suffering from anxiety were more likely to not have the tools necessary to get treated for it, even if they wanted to.
Many people simply don’t understand that they need health care for anxiety disorders. They think they don’t have a problem. Recognizing a mental health disorder is really difficult for people to comprehend. Unlike a broken bone, which is clearly broken and in need of a cast, anxiety has many different appearances and also different treatments. Also unlike a broken bone, anxiety doesn’t happen all at once in one painful blow. A person may have suffered from anxiety for decades and still be unaware that it is a serious problem requiring serious solutions.
Anxiety about the Treatment
The very nature of anxiety makes it difficult for people to call a therapist to seek help. Thinking about the possible consequences of making a first appointment with a mental health care provider or a therapist can be a source of even greater anxiety. What will people think if they find out? What will the therapist say? How can I possibly talk about something that is so stressful and painful? What if I have to take medication that turns me into a zombie? What if I need to be hospitalized? All sorts of possibilities and doubts present themselves, making it much more difficult to seek help. People with anxiety disorders can truly benefit from caring friends and family who will support them and help them through the process of getting professional treatment.
While there are over 11,000 registered mental health treatment facilities in the United States as of 2018, there are places, especially rural areas, where people may not have a place to go for help. Older people may not be able to find transportation to get to their appointments. People with jobs, families, and busy lives may not have the time to travel long distances for proper care. With all the other reasons that a person struggling from anxiety may have for handling their problem on their own, not having a nearby facility only makes it easier not to get help.
The obstacles to getting help for anxiety disorders are difficult, but not impossible. Getting help for anxiety is a good decision, and someday that message may be a little easier to extend to the general public. As for now, we work to change the stigma behind mental health illness one person at a time. IS-ART is committed to improving the health and well-being of people through Accelerated Resolution Therapy.