Select Page

Barriers To Getting Mental Health Help – And How to Counter Them

by | Dec 27, 2023 | Mental Health

Forward, Together with western tidewater community services board

When you’re struggling with your mental health, the barriers to getting care can seem insurmountable. 

Not sure how to get over the barriers to getting mental health help before it becomes a crisis? Here are a few tips on how to get started.

Common Barriers To Getting Help for Mental Health and How To Overcome Them


There’s still so much stigma surrounding mental illness and even around taking steps to care for our mental health. This stigma prevents many people from reaching out for the help they need. It also can cause them to keep their experiences to themself. This is a mistake because through sharing our experiences with mental health, we can grow and improve our lives and help others to do the same

Overcoming Stigma

By talking about your mental health, you normalize your experiences, and others who are going through the same thing are validated, meaning that they are more likely to also seek help. Later, they might decide to share their own story and encourage someone else.

Sharing your story doesn’t only help others, it can help you to overcome those feelings of shame that stigma causes. Talk about mental health whenever you can, share social media posts, do whatever you can do to normalize mental health in your mind. And if you do decide to seek help, be open about your decision with others – you might encourage someone else to get help.

Symptoms of Depression or Another Mental Health Condition

Someone who’s experiencing suicidal thoughts or other symptoms of depression often find it challenging to keep up with their daily tasks and hobbies, and they may find it especially difficult to seek help. Many people feel stuck in an endless loop – they feel “depressed enough” to ask for help, but let fear, stigma, potential costs or other perceived deterrents stop them and once they’re feeling better, they feel that they don’t need help – until they once again are overcome by their symptoms.

Overcoming Depression

It can be very difficult to overcome mental health symptoms that are preventing you from getting help. How can you exert the effort to research options, choose a provider, make an appointment, talk to your insurance company, go to your appointment, etc. when you can barely get out of bed some days?

It’s not always easy, but getting help is worth it. Taking care of your mental health problems will give you a better quality of life and a sense of purpose and will also improve your relationships. If you’re struggling to go through with getting help, enlist a friend to help. Ask them to get in touch with you daily, or at least a couple of times a week, to check in. This will ensure that you have someone looking out for you and that you’ll have a reason to get out of bed and to maybe even reach out for help.

The Cost of Mental Health Services

One study, which surveyed residents of 11 major countries, found that American adults were far more likely than those in other countries to go without needed care because of costs. The study also found that one-third of U.S. adults went without recommended care, did not see a doctor when sick, or failed to fill a prescription because of costs. This shows that cost is a major barrier to accessing health care in the U.S., especially for the 1 in every 10 Americans who don’t have health insurance.

Overcoming the Cost of Mental Health Services

While health care in the U.S. can be expensive, there are both private and public programs and organizations that can help. Here at Western Tidewater Community Services Board, we’re backed by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities and are proud to provide high-quality, low-cost services to our community members in need. We never turn anyone away based on their ability to pay. We will work with you to figure out how we can best serve you and your family at the most affordable pricing.

Lack of Availability of Services

Some people are willing to seek mental health help, but can’t due to a lack of availability of mental health services. This is especially true in rural areas. It’s estimated that as many as 65% of nonmetropolitan counties don’t have psychiatrists and over 60% of rural Americans live in designated mental health provider shortage areas.

A resident of a rural area looking for mental health services may need to travel to another city, and this isn’t always feasible for families who don’t own a car. Most small towns don’t have any form of public transportation, making it even harder to access health care.

Overcoming the Lack of Availability of Services

Mental health services can be difficult to access in less developed areas, but many people find that online therapy works for them. Telehealth counseling might be the best option for you if you don’t live close to a provider. You can also opt to reach out for support and encouragement from a local support group.

Structural Racism and Discrimination

Racism and discrimination have long been part of our society. While many modern-day individuals and governing bodies do have good intentions, it’s very difficult to eliminate racism. That’s because it’s been around so long that it’s now structural – that means that whether we as individuals intend to be racist or not, our society fosters racial discrimination through “mutually reinforcing systems of housing, education, employment, earnings, benefits, credit, media, health care and criminal justice.”

Even the most well-meaning medical professional can succumb to what’s called implicit biasa form of bias that occurs automatically and unintentionally, that nevertheless affects judgments, decisions, and behaviors. Implicit bias is often behind the unequal treatment and health outcomes of members of minority groups like people of color, immigrants, disabled individuals and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Overcoming Structural Racism and Discrimination

Racism and discrimination are, of course, much more difficult to overcome, especially because racism isn’t always overt. Some medical providers may not even realize that systematic racism is clouding their judgment. If you don’t feel that you can get unbiased care from your current provider, look into other options. You could ask friends and family for their recommendations or do your own research.

And while no one is impervious to implicit bias, there’s no empirical evidence that clients who “work with therapists of the same race, gender, or cultural background” necessarily have better outcomes. However, many people are simply more comfortable with a therapist who shares their racial or ethnic background. 

If you’d prefer to see a practitioner of your own racial or ethnic background, try searching through one of these directories designed to help people find just that.

A Community of Hope

WTCSB is your single-point-of-access for mental health, substance abuse and developmental disability services in the cities of Franklin, Suffolk and the counties of Isle of Wight and Southampton.

We do everything we can to keep our promise – to provide affordable and accessible care to our community members – but we do so much more than that. We’re your local, approachable community of hope and caring.

If you feel like you have no one to talk to or are simply ready to get help, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You can make an appointment for same-day access online or call us at 757-758-5106.

Need help right away?

Talk to someone immediately by:

  • Calling the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988
  • Calling the local Region Five Crisis Line at 757-656-7755
  • Reaching out to WTCSB Emergency Services at (757) 925-2484

Latest Posts

How we Help

Announcements and News


WTCSB Services

We provide integrated services and relief for multiple mental health needs, support for individuals with developmental disabilities, and substance abuse help.

Same Day Access

Our exclusive Same-Day Access to care and 24/7 crisis intervention means our caring team of clinicians and counselors are always within reach.

Who We Are

Western Tidewater CSB is the leading authority in mental health and developmental services in Franklin, Suffolk, Isle of Wight County, and Southampton County. Learn more about what truly sets us apart.