Helping someone that denies help 

Often, affected individuals may deny the need to seek help. There are different reasons why this could happen. For example, symptoms of mental illness such as hallucinations may make it difficult for the person to realise that they have a mental illness and need help. Alternatively, the person may feel a sense of stigma towards their mental illness, making it difficult for them to acknowledge the need for help. 

Regardless of the reason, the longer someone goes without treatment, the more distress they will experience, and the harder it will be for them to recover.

If this is the case, you might need to explain why you are concerned, and provide specific examples of their actions and behaviour that have caused you to worry.

It might also help to provide them with some information, such as a book, discussion forum or fact sheet.

Try to be as genuine and supportive as you can throughout the entire situation. You could offer to assist them in seeking professional help by searching for the right professional, making an appointment for them on their behalf, or even accompanying them on the appointment day.

What if they still won’t accept?

If the person you are worried about is still reluctant to acknowledge a problem or seek help, ask what is stopping them. Once you know what they are concerned about, you can work together to find solutions to overcome the barriers that are stopping them.

More about Stigma and Mental Illness

Stigma is brought on by criticism and discrimination - when you are seen by someone else in a negative way because of a particular characteristic or attribute (such as skin colour, cultural background, or a disability).

When a person experiences stigma because of their mental illness, it becomes an invisible mark that they internalise, leading to a negative impact towards their subjective well-being. This creates a feeling of self-doubt, shame and guilt. Stigma can be described as ‘an attribute that is deeply discrediting… turning a whole and usual person to a tainted and discounted one’

Many people with mental illness may personally take in prejudiced views from society, which can affect their self-esteem. They attempt to conceal their mental illness from people who are closest to them for fear of being shunned and stigmatised. This may lead them to avoid seeking treatment, to withdraw from their social life, to substance abuse (e.g. with drug or alcohol), or even to suicide.