Why people don’t seek treatment for depression

What prevents people from taking steps to obtain treatment for depression?

Sometimes the needed services are simply not available, so there is nowhere to turn. Even with available options, there are numerous other factors that prevent people from obtaining help – either to take the first step to meet with a practitioner or to pursue treatment once diagnosed.

An average of one in four Americans experience a mental illness every year, yet only about 41 percent seek mental health services.  In fact, the median time frame for seeking treatment is 10 years.

Some of the most common reasons people do not take the steps needed to obtain help for depression include:

  • Fear and shame: People recognize the negative stigma and discrimination of being associated with a mental illness. Fear of being labeled weak is part of the human condition, and it is natural to worry about impact on education, careers and life goals.
  • Lack of insight: When someone has clear signs of a mental illness but is convinced nothing is wrong, this is known as anosognosia.
  • Limited awareness: A person sometimes minimizes their issues and rationalizes that what is going on is “not that bad” or “everyone gets stressed.” Learning more about symptoms and conditions is advised for everyone wanting to better understand depression.
  • Feelings of inadequacy: Many people believe that they are inadequate or it would mean failure to admit that something is wrong. They believe they should be able to handle it.
  • Distrust: Some find it difficult to share personal details with a counselor, and may worry that information will not be kept confidential
  • Hopelessness: Sometimes there is a feeling that nothing will ever get better and nothing will help.
  • Unavailability: Some may not know how to find help, and in underserved areas this problem is more significant.
  • Practical barriers: A lack of reliable transportation or the ability to pay for services or appointments times that conflict with work or school schedules are significant.

Communications and programs are continuously working to make mental health treatments as accessible as possible. The continuing integration of primary care and mental health services is meant to streamline the processes involved in getting people to the help that they need. Visit the Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council for nearby mental health centers, and for immediate concerns please call the Colorado Crisis Services at 1-844-493-TALK (8255).

The challenge is clear. A study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine indicates that of those who are newly diagnosed, only about a third get treatment, and the statistic is even lower among minorities and older adults. Consequently, it is important to educate yourself about mental health providers nearest you.

We have a broad and diverse continuum of mental health services at Community Reach Center. To learn more about our services, visit communityreachcenter.org or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday. We have outpatient and residential centers in the north side Denver metro area, including Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

A look at suicidal tendencies and how to help

The signs and symptoms of suicide risk are well documented, so it is important to take the time to know what to watch for and how to help. You could be the helpful friend or family member that aids and encourages someone to connect with needed professional services.

Common factors

People face different challenges at different times of their lives, and according to the Mental Health First Aid manual some common factors associated with someone being suicidal are:

  • Mental illness: People who are depressed are more likely to die by suicide. Depressive symptoms contribute to risk of suicide as the person may feel overwhelmed and helpless.
  • Suicide risk is increased by alcohol or drug use - and in some cases, a combination of both.
  • Certain age groups are more at-risk, typically adolescents and older adults.
  • Males kill themselves more often than females although females attempt suicide three times as often.
  • Lack of social support. For example, not having a spouse is a risk factor for males.
  • The fact that other family members or significant persons have taken their lives by suicide.

Of the suicide risk assessments related to: gender, age, chronic physical illness, mental illness, use of alcohol and other substances, less social support, previous attempt and organized plan, it so happens that previous attempt and having an organized plan are the most significant factors. Having a plan means discussing specifically how someone might take his or her life.

What to watch for

A variety or warning signs of suicide are evident. They include:

  • Threatening to hurt or kill oneself
  • Seeking access to means
  • Talking, writing or posting on social media about death dying or suicide
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling worthless or a lack of purpose
  • Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities
  • Feeling trapped
  • Increasing alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawing from family friends or society
  • Demonstrating rage and anger or seeking revenge
  • Appearing agitated
  • Having a dramatic change in mood

Please keep in mind that some of these warning signs alone may not be related to suicidal ideation but fall under the context of life’s general pressures or what teens sometimes experience in the process of growing up. The Mental Health First Aid courses outline how to help and provides several exercises to teach skills in reaching out. One key point is to let the person know you are concerned and willing to help. Secondly, if a person has a plan and is a high risk for suicide, it is most important to stay with that individual until professional help arrives.

Learning opportunities

Mental Health First Aid courses are provided through Community Reach Center. Please register at Community Reach Center. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) instructs people how to identify, understand and respond to others experiencing a behavioral health crisis. This 8-hour class teaches recognition of risk factors and warning signs and how to provide basic, appropriate interventions for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis.

ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) is a two-day workshop that prepares caregivers to provide suicide life-assisting, first-aid intervention. Anyone 16 years and older are welcome to attend. Also, safeTALK is a three-hour training program that prepares helpers to identify persons with thoughts of suicide and connect them to suicide first-aid resources. To register for ASIST, visit Community Reach Center.  For safeTalk, training, visit Living Works.

If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, we have a continuum of mental health services at Community Reach Center. To learn more about our services, visit communityreachcenter.org or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

Learn About the Role of Sleep in Mental Health

Man enjoying good sleepEvery year, researchers discover new links between sleep and health, and it's become apparent that sleep is something that everybody needs to take seriously. There are a number of health complications that can arise as a result of disturbed sleep, a lack of sleep, and a slew of other factors. At our mental health clinic, we emphasize that restful sleep is essential to good mental and emotional health. 


Physical and Mental Health Risks of Sleep Deprivation

Everyone experiences occasional sleeplessness. However, people who fail to get seven to nine hours of sleep on a regular basis and consequently have an ongoing “sleep deficit” are at a higher risk for a number of medical problems including:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack

Sleep difficulties can also cause or worsen mental and emotional health issues. This includes:

  • Decreased ability to think clearly
  • Memory problems
  • Decreased reaction time (which is especially problematic when driving a motor vehicle or operating machinery)
  • Increased symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Strained personal and professional relationships


Sleep and ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that is closely linked to sleep. While the relationship is not fully understood, most experts agree that there is a connection. The National Sleep Foundation quotes multiple studies in pointing out that in children in particular:

  • Children who have ADHD have higher rates of daytime sleepiness than children without ADHD
  • About 50 percent of children with ADHD exhibit signs of sleep-disordered breathing as compared to just 22 percent of children without the disease
  • Periodic leg movement syndrome and restless legs syndrome are common in kids with ADHD

Making matters worse is the fact that while adults tend to get lethargic when they don’t get enough sleep, children often compensate for feelings of daytime sleepiness by being more active. Consequently, sleep disorders and ADHD may both mask and magnify one another, making it more challenging to assess and treat either condition. However, treatment can be effective, and it is critical as both conditions can lead to other health problems.


10 Tips for Better Sleep

Whether sleep issues are causing you to have health concerns or simply impacting your quality of life, there are steps you can take to get more restful sleep. They include:

  1. Sticking to a regular sleep/wake schedule, even on weekends
  2. Avoiding long or irregular daytime naps
  3. Increasing exposure to sunlight or bright light during the day
  4. Reducing caffeine consumption later in the day
  5. Sleeping in a room that is comfortably cool, dark and quiet
  6. Avoiding late meals and minimizing water intake in the evening
  7. Reducing “screen time” as bedtime approaches
  8. Practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing, visualization, taking a hot bath or shower, meditating or reading a book just before going to bed
  9. Getting regular exercise, but not in the evening
  10. Being evaluated for physical or mental health concerns that may be affecting your sleep


Helping Clients Understand and Improve Their Sleep

At Community Reach Center, we know how valuable it is to get restful sleep on a regular basis. Our counselors also understand that sleep, mental health and physical health are intertwined and can help you address the challenges you face. Learn more about our services at communityreachcenter.org or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We have mental health centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

What are “Evidence-Based” Practices?

Doctor helping patient with paperworkThe term “evidence-based practice” (EBP) is widely used in behavioral health settings today. In fact, it is used in many areas of healthcare and beyond. But, the people we serve at our mental health clinic will often ask, “What does it mean?”

Healthcare professionals first began referring to evidence-based medicine (EBM) in the context of medical research. In particular, randomized clinical trials were, and are, considered to be the best source of evidence on the efficacy of a particular drug or treatment. The concept then spread to other allied health and educational fields, and the more general label EBP was applied. And while “evidence-based” first referred to a process, it now is a descriptor for any treatment model that is supported by a reasonable amount of evidence.


From Initial Reluctance to Widespread Use

Initially, some behavioral health professionals were reluctant to adopt EBP as a standard of care in mental health for a few reasons. One was that unlike a clinical drug trial in which the results were fairly clear (i.e., a medication either killed the targeted cancer cell or it did not), the “results” of a behavioral treatment are harder to define. Is the patient experiencing fewer symptoms of depression this month as compared to last month? If so, how much fewer? Another point of resistance was that mental health professionals did not want to ignore the important role that their judgment plays in helping patients get well.

However, EBP is now widely accepted as an effective way to approach the diagnosis and treatment of behavioral health conditions. For example, the U.S. government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has established an Evidence-Based Practices Resource Center whose goal is “to provide communities, clinicians, policy-makers and others in the field with the information and tools they need to incorporate evidence-based practices into their communities or clinical settings.”  

Nonprofit mental health organizations like Mental Health America (MHA) are chiming in as well. MHA’s Position Statement 12: Evidence-Based Healthcare says that the organization is “dedicated to accelerating the application of scientific and practical knowledge to help in the recovery of people with mental health and substance use conditions.”


EBP and the “Three-Legged Stool”

Evidence-based practice is sometimes defined as a “three-legged stool.” The three key principles are:

  • Leveraging the best available evidence on whether or not a treatment works and why it works
  • Using clinical skills and judgment to assess a client’s condition and weigh the risks and benefits of potential treatments for them specifically
  • Considering the client’s values and preferences

Fortunately for behavioral health professionals at mental health clinics, web-based “clearinghouses” of information are continually becoming larger and more accessible. Consequently, the evidence needed to choose intervention approaches is more accurate, up-to-date and clearly articulated. As a result, clients are getting treatment plans that more effectively address their conditions and produce better outcomes.

We feature evidence-based practices at our Community Reach Center mental health clinics. Learn more about our services at communityreachcenter.org or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.