Why Don’t People Get Help for Mental Illness

Mental Illness

Psychiatry is one of the vaguest branches of medicine. Thanks to its inaccurate and horrific depiction in pop culture, people with real mental illnesses often aren’t too keen on getting help. We explore the reasons that prevent a person from seeking help for a mental illness.


Unlike physical illnesses like a cough or fever or cancer, mental illnesses rarely are reflected in a person’s health. Most people with a mental illness often deny that they have a condition since to themselves; they find plenty of justifications to excuse the problems in their behavior. When a person has a fever, they can check their temperature through a thermometer though no such apparatus exists for mental illnesses. Since the diagnosis of a mental illness is solely dependent on the word of a shrink, many patients refuse to believe that a stranger could know more about their mental condition than themselves.

Some mental illnesses go undetected for years

Mental illnesses like personality disorders, mood disorders and even psychotic disorders can go undetected for years. For example, a person who has been moody all his life will not appear abnormal if they develop bipolar disorder later in life and most people would simply assume that their personality has worsened with age. Similarly, mental illnesses like paranoid disorder, schizophrenia etc. are very hard to detect unless the person advertently or inadvertently reveals what’s going inside their head.

Stigma surrounding mental health issues

Mental illnesses like depression and bipolar disorder have become somewhat de-stigmatized over the past few years as a number of high profile celebrities have come forward and claimed that they battled these illnesses, sought treatment for them and are better now. However, the depiction of mental illness in pop culture has been so skewed that many people with mental health issues begin to associate having a problem with being mad. They fear that admitting that they have a problem will prompt others to commit them to a mental asylum or subject them to horrific treatments.