"If you're dealing with a mental health struggle, then just get help!"

The word "just" implies something is easy to obtain (or seems easy to obtain) even if it's nearly impossible to get.

As someone who has been in therapy off-and-on for the last three years, I am the first to tell you it's not as accessible as it should be.

There were times when I was able to obtain the help I needed, and there were times when I couldn't get help even when I needed it the most.

There can be multiple reasons why someone doesn't get the help they need. What they need is for the people around them to be supportive and understanding of those reasons.

1. Money

Most therapy sessions are $100 or more for a one-hour weekly meeting. If you go once a week, that's $400 a month spent. Most young people don't have an extra $400 just lying around, so they're forced to go without something they need to provide themselves with other needs they can't go without, such as food, water, transportation, shelter, etc.

2. Time

Not everyone has an open spot on their schedule to squeeze in a counseling session once a week. Many people work 5+ days a week for 8-12 hours a day. Unless there's a center open on the weekends or really late at night on weekdays, finding time during one's hectic week to get the help they need is nearly impossible.

3. Accessibility

If someone isn't able to see a therapist in person, there are free online resources available to them. However, online resources don't take the place of meeting someone face-to-face. About a year ago, I went for a therapy session before Thanksgiving break, and my therapist recommended Cybertherapy. I didn't want to talk to a computer. I wanted someone who could show they cared about me and hug me at the end of our sessions like my old therapist did.

4. The system/business isn't structured very well

This kind of ties into accessibility. For example, my school offered free counseling for students, but there's no such thing as a free lunch. We didn't have to pay with money, but we had to pay with time. It's extremely difficult for a student to get a regular appointment with a therapist since there were 10 of them and thousands of us. If you couldn't get an appointment, you could do walk-in hours. However, walk-in hours only took place during a designated few hours each day. If you couldn't get there early (like I couldn't because of work), you would sit there for up to two hours waiting to be called in. It was extremely frustrating.

5. Stigma

The stigma surrounding mental health has for the most part diminished, but it still remains. When I hear someone is in therapy, I think of it in the same way as a checkup with a regular doctor. However, there are still many people out there who believe people who go to therapy are crazy. I've had to learn not to let other people's uninformed opinions get to me, but I've also learned to be more careful with who I disclose information to. Not everyone can be trusted.

6. Cultural and religious beliefs

This kind of ties into the stigma. For example, my old manager was part of a culture that didn't believe in mental illness/mental health issues. She believed it wasn't real, and she never failed to express her beliefs at work when she found out I was in therapy. For some cultural groups, people aren't able to seek mental help because it goes against their culture, especially in collectivistic cultures. However, it's important to remember mental illness doesn't discriminate.

7. Previous bad experiences with past mental health specialists

I've had my fair share of good and bad experiences with therapists. For example, the two therapists I saw through the free counseling program at school made me never want to go back to therapy. One of them was super nice and sweet, but she completely invalidated my experiences and told me the reason I struggle with anxiety (something I've struggled with since I was 3) was that I drank coffee (which I didn't start drinking until 18). The other would just stare at me in silence until I spoke, and then she told me I didn't need to be there. Nowadays, I just try to deal with it on my own.

8. Reaching out can be extremely difficult

Ironically, mental illness prevents people from doing the one thing they should do when going through a tough time: reaching out. Mental illness acts as an isolator because it convinces you you're a burden even when that's the farthest from the truth. This can make it nearly impossible to reach out to anyone, including mental health professionals. If you know someone who's going through a mental struggle, help them out. Encourage them to seek help. Drive them to their appointment and take them out for ice cream afterward. Little things like that make healing much easier.

9. Disparities

In order to go to a therapist, you have to have a car. There has to be a therapy center somewhere near your residence. Not everyone has a car. Even if they do, insurance is expensive. Nobody has the time or ability to walk all the way to an appointment. Some people live in areas that don't even have grocery stores, let alone mental health centers. Something we could work on as a society is building mental health centers in areas with less access to resources and reducing the cost of therapy sessions for low-income neighborhoods.

10. Other responsibilities

This kind of ties into money and time. Most people have responsibilities outside of work, such as taking care of children and other family members, grocery shopping, school, organizations, activities, exercise, cooking, cleaning, etc. They can't just drop their responsibilities for a 1-hour session. These things have to be planned out. Babysitting arrangements need to be made. There has to be a backup plan for dinner. Who's going to take grandma to her doctor appointment? All these things have to be taken into consideration.

11. They may not be ready

People will only accept help if they truly want it. When I was 16, I was forced to go to therapy. I rebelled in any way I could. I didn't want to go. It wasn't my idea. I refused to tell the therapist anything other than what would be socially acceptable. I wasn't ready. Fast forward three years and I openly opted to go to therapy. I knew I needed help and I wanted to improve. I found a good therapist who I got along with really well. I saw her once a week for almost a year, and I improved in ways I never could've imagined! However, that never would've happened if I wasn't ready. It takes time.

Before you judge someone for not seeking help, put yourself in their shoes. Does their paycheck, schedule and situation line up for them to get help?

If not, ask what you can do to help. Drive them to their appointment. Offer to help them pay for it. Remind them there's nothing wrong with seeking help.

Be there for them. Just one supportive person in their life can make all the difference.