How do I know if I need help with my mental health?

Each day I look out of the same window, at the same view. I am accustomed to the changes in seasons and the regular passers-by, walking up and down the road at different points of the day. Each morning, I have a rough idea about what I am expecting to see and, on some days, I am more interested in what is going on outside than others.


However, yesterday I was taken by surprise. As I looked through the window, I was aware not only of the view but of how much my windows needed cleaning. I hadn’t noticed it, the days and weeks before, but as the brighter mornings and cheerful beams of sunlight pushed through the glass, I realised that, although the dirt must have been there for weeks, today it just felt more noticeable. It made it more difficult to concentrate on the view and it made me feel a little embarrassed about the lack of attention I had given to the household chores.

The accumulation of household living had been building over time, unnoticed. It was only, on a bright sunny day (ironically, when people were feeling more positive about getting out in the sunshine), did its presence make itself known and begin to noticeably weigh me down.

Are you feeling low?

If our mental health begins to take a downturn, we don’t always notice it immediately. We are often so busy that we put our worries and concerns on the back burner or distract ourselves from difficult feelings.

But perhaps it’s when others are experiencing their sunnier days, you realise that you don’t feel able to meet them in that positivity. Perhaps, if you really think about it, it’s been a while since you have been able to.

Conversations around the importance of taking care of our mental health are on the rise. As people in the public eye speak more openly about their own wellbeing, the stigma around mental health conditions is beginning to fall away and, as a result, more people are feeling able to access support. This is a great thing!

Do I need help?

As more people access the support of their GP or counsellor, it may leave you wondering whether you would know if you needed help yourself? How can you tell whether you are depressed or just feeling a bit low? What is the difference between feeling a little anxious and having an anxiety disorder? How will I know if my worries or concerns need discussing with a professional or might just go away by themselves?

When you go to the doctor with tonsillitis, they’ll sometimes tell you that you have a virus; to rest and let your body’s immunity take care of it. Whereas sometimes they will identify a bacterial infection that will need a course of antibiotics.

If it takes a qualified medical professional to decide what type of tonsilitis I might have, how on earth am I supposed to know if I need help with my mental health?

Contacting your GP

My first piece of advice would be, if you are at all concerned about your mental well-being it is never a bad idea to contact your doctor. I promise you are not wasting their time. You wouldn’t leave a wound to get infected, so there is no need to hold back if you are worried about your well-being either.

Your GP is there to signpost you to the right support and will take your concerns seriously. You won’t be pushed into taking unwanted medication, if you don’t want it and it can be a real weight off your shoulders, knowing that you have been heard. So, if you’re in any doubt, a visit to your GP is a good option.

Will counselling help me?

This is the exciting part! You never have to know if you ‘need’ counselling. There are no medical thresholds that need to be met to benefit from it. If you are looking to make positive changes in your life, feel better about yourself and are ready to talk to someone about it, counselling is always a great option.

It can help anyone and everyone, and you don’t need to be at rock bottom for it to make a real and sustained difference to your life, your relationships and your self-confidence.

Please don’t worry you are taking the space of someone more deserving or that you are silly to consider it. Although these are very common concerns, your counsellor won’t question whether your needs are serious enough or whether you deserve to be there.  We want to offer you the opportunity to feel better and work towards a happier life.

So, rather than worry about whether you need some support, perhaps just ask yourself whether you would like some.

If you would like me to help you, please get in touch. In the meantime, I’ll be cleaning my windows!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Sittingbourne, Kent, ME10
Written by Catherine Beach, Counselling, Dip Couns, MBACP
Sittingbourne, Kent, ME10

Catherine is a person centred counsellor, teacher and occasional poet from Kent. She is on a mission to rid the world of shoulds and musts, working with her clients to discover their passions, wants and needs. Catherine is passionate in the belief that we are all good enough but live in a world that often lies to us.

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