When do I need to get help for my mental health | Advice for Young People

When do I need to get help for my mental health?

There are lots of ways to think about and describe mental health. We all have mental health and at different times in our life as we face various challenges it can be impacted.

We can start to find things difficult and may wonder what to do next. There are many different types of support out there to help us look after mental health. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach.

Not everyone who experiences challenges with their mental health will need to access a service for support. If something is causing you to feel stressed talking to a good friend, family member or a trusted adult can be enough to get you through.

There are many different types of support out there to help us look after mental health. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach

At times, support from a mental health professional or service may be necessary. Services have developed and evolved over the years to meet specific types of needs.

Some services are available to everyone, for example self-help websites. Others are for a small number of people who are struggling a lot, for example in-patient services. While it’s great to be aware there are a range of services available, it can be difficult to know which services will best meet our need. Or, indeed, whether we need a service at all.

Services tend to be categorised using terms like ‘preventative’, ‘mild to moderate’, ‘moderate to severe’ and ‘crisis’. Read about services available in Ireland if you are under 18 or services if you are over 18.

How do you know what level your mental health concern is at?

It’s too simplistic to say particular issues fit in particular categories.

If you were feeling very upset after a relationship break up, your needs might be considered in the ‘mild to moderate’ category, for example. But if you were feeling so low that you were continuously crying and struggling to get out of bed every day, months after the break up, you might need services in the ‘moderate to severe’ category. At times, a build-up of issues may even cause you to have thoughts about taking your own life, needing a response from a crisis level service.

It’s never too late to get help. But, we do know that the longer someone is struggling with poor mental health, the more entrenched their difficulties can become.

Jen, Jigsaw Clinician

How do I know which mental health service is for me?

First of all, if in doubt, your GP will be able to provide some advice and guidance. When considering the level of support needed, here are a few things to think about:

Duration

How long has your mental health been affecting you? Are there times when it is better or worse, or is it consistently at the same level?

It’s never too late to get help. But, we do know that the longer someone is struggling with poor mental health, the more entrenched their difficulties can become. If you feel your mental health is starting to get worse, and can make some changes, you may not need to access professional support.

Are there some times when you are managing things better than others? What is going on that makes things easier at these times? Understanding what influences your mental health can help you to develop strategies to cope a little better.

In general, if your mental health problems have been going on for a few months, despite your attempts to manage things, many of the services for ‘mild to moderate’ mental health concerns may be able to meet your needs.

If you have been struggling for a number of years, your difficulties may have become more complex, or ‘moderate to severe’. If this is the case, you will need to speak to your GP so that they can refer you to the right support.

Impact

How is your mental health affecting your day to day activity?

It’s not just the length of time your mental health has been affecting your life that is a factor in relation to the type of support you might need.

Good mental health helps us to do all of the things we need to do in our lives. This means looking after ourselves, working or studying, socialising and taking part in leisure activities. It helps us with making decisions and engaging in meaningful relationships. When the way we are feeling is preventing us from doing these things it is an indication that we may need support.

If you notice that you aren’t doing the things you want or need to do, you may want to make some changes. These can be on your own or with support from a family member or friend. Looking for self-help information can be a great start. Check out Jigsaw’s Read your mind list.

However, if you find that you know the theory of what might help but are still struggling to do it, it might be worth talking to a health professional.

Services like Jigsaw work with young people who are experiencing ‘mild to moderate’ mental health concerns. You might benefit from this type of service when your mental health is impacting on some aspects of your life and you need a help from someone outside of your family or friends for a short period of time to help you to get back on track.

If your mental health has been very disruptive to your life, you may need longer term or more intensive support. These services are for people with ‘moderate to severe’ mental health concerns. Find out more about these services available in Ireland if you are under 18 and if you are over 18. 

Harm

Are you worried that you might harm yourself?

If you are thinking about self-harm or suicide, you should look for help as soon as possible.

Sometimes, when things become overwhelming, you may begin to feel life is not worth living.
Our My World Survey identified 43 % of young adults had felt this at some point in their lives. If you start to feel like this, it is important to speak to someone about it.

It may be that you have this type of thought occasionally but would never act on it. Speaking to a family member or friend that you trust, or a health professional, will help you to cope and to make the changes that are needed in your life.

When is it a crisis?

The dictionary definition of ‘crisis’ is a time of intense difficulty or danger. When someone feels that they are no longer able to cope or they feel unable to keep themselves safe, this could be considered a crisis. When someone is experiencing a crisis, they most likely will need help to understand what is happening and to find a way to deal with it.

Crisis services work to keep people safe when they are at risk of harming themselves. They tend to work with people for as long as is necessary for the crisis to pass or until other supports are put in place.

If you have thoughts about not wanting to be here, it is important you talk to someone. If you start to think of a plan to end your life, or are worried about seriously harming yourself in some way, you need to access support as soon as possible.

This could be an urgent appointment with your GP. If this is the case, tell the receptionist that you are having thoughts about suicide. Or contact Pieta House by calling 1800 247 247 or texting HELP to 51444.

Check these other options if you need urgent help.

Being able to recognise and acknowledge when we are finding things tough is a starting point towards things getting better. Taking control, doing the things that we can do and asking for support when we need it are signs of strength.

Find out more about different services available in Ireland if you are under 18 and if you are over 18.