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When to seek help

If you’re worried about your mental health, you might feel unsure about whether you need professional help to feel better.

Because everyone experiences mental health issues differently, there’s a variety of signs you should look for to work out when to seek help.

There is never a wrong time to seek help

Making the decision to get help can be hard. You might feel uncomfortable asking for support or worry that your mental health isn’t ‘bad enough’ to bother a professional.

But, when it comes to mental health, there is no wrong time to ask for professional help.

If you’re not feeling like yourself, don’t ‘wait to see if things get worse’ before seeking help. Research shows that early treatment can reduce the length and severity of mental health issues.

Signs you should reach out

Mental illness affects everyone differently. It can range from subtle feelings that something is not right, through to overwhelming physical, emotional or behavioural changes and reactions.

In general, you should seek support for your mental health if:

  1. you’ve been feeling worried, sad, down, angry, anxious, depressed, numb or ‘not yourself’ for several weeks or more, and/or
  2. the way you’re feeling is affecting your ability to cope at work, school or in your relationships.

You might also be experiencing some of the following feelings, thoughts or behaviours:

Feelings

Thoughts

Behaviours

  • Sad, teary, anxious or irritable
  • Guilty
  • Hopeless and bad about yourself
  • Exhausted
  • Alone or isolated
  • Worried or afraid
  • Tense or on edge
  • Nervous or scared
  • Overwhelmed
  • Life is too hard
  • I can’t cope
  • I can’t focus
  • I am useless or no good
  • Everything is wrong
  • There is no way out of this
  • It’s not going to get better
  • I've got nothing to look forward to
  • Changes in motivation and energy level
  • Struggling to find enjoyment or pleasure in things
  • Lack of quality sleep
  • Fluctuating appetite or weight
  • Lack of concentration, difficulty focussing and problems with memory
  • Sweating
  • Risky behaviours or being impulsive

Why getting support is important

Whether your mental health concern is mild or very serious, a mental health professional can help you manage it. They will work with you to figure out what’s going on and help you develop a range of coping and resilience-building strategies. For some issues, they may also prescribe medication to help you feel better.

You won’t need to sit on a couch and talk about your past. Today’s treatment approaches have a focus on the future, giving you the tools to play an active part in your recovery.

The first step is as easy as talking to your GP. Find out more about the pathways to get support for your mental health.

Isn’t it normal to feel down sometimes?

Everyone feels low from time to time, especially when faced with stressful life events. But while many people bounce back quickly, others may continue to struggle and experience a decline in their mental health.

If you’ve noticed a change in your feelings, thoughts or behaviour, pay careful attention to:

  • how long the changes last
  • whether they come and go, or if they are noticeable most of the time
  • if they are disrupting your daily life in a negative way.

You should seek help as soon as these feelings last more than a few weeks, or if they start affecting your relationships, or your ability to work, learn or participate in your usual social activities.

Find out how to seek help for your mental health.

More ways to seek help

If you don’t feel ready to seek professional help, there are other steps you can take to improve and protect your mental health and wellbeing, including:

  1. Practising daily mental wellbeing activities

    Taking some ‘you time’ each day can improve your mood and resilience to stressful situations. Learn how on Queensland Health’s Your Mental Wellbeing website.

  2. Using your existing supports

    Connect with friends and family to talk about how you’re feeling.

  3. Looking to past experience

    Try using the same strategies that have helped you work through low spots in the past.

  4. Accessing online or telephone supports

    There are a range of organisations that can support you if you’re not ready to meet face-to-face, including:
    • Lifeline 13 11 14
    • Beyond Blue 1300 224 636
    • Find more support services on the Your Mental Wellbeing website