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.