An Open Letter to Those Who Are Still *Hesitant* About Seeking Mental Health Aid

by Maxine Nava Valdez   |  May 4, 2023
Image: Pexels Art: Bacs Arcebal
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I know all too well the feeling of holding back tears and repressing extreme emotions just because I thought the people around me would never understand. The truth is, I was right—not everyone will. The stigma on mental health is still present in our modern world but hey, another truth is that there are some who will understand, and will try to do so for you.

You need to know that you have the right to ask for help and that you deserve to find clarity about what you’re feeling. It might be scary at first thinking of all the possible reactions you might get from people if you finally decide to take the leap. Words like “You’re just an attention-seeker,” “It’s all in your head,” or even “You’re just not praying hard enough,” can definitely take you even more down than you already are. I’ve been there too and trust me, no one else’s comment matters more than yours. You know yourself better, their opinions cannot take precedence over your mental health. Just because the wounds and scars aren’t physically visible, doesn’t mean they’re not real. Mental illnesses affect people’s ability to function the same way physical diseases do.

You don’t have to protect other people from your emotions. You don’t have to guilt yourself into thinking that you haven’t earned getting help because your past isn’t as bad as others or that your present isn’t exactly catastrophic. You don’t have to constantly prove how unwell you are. You should never let anyone talk you out of getting the help you need, not even your own voice. Showing vulnerability doesn’t make you weak, it makes you human.


Another thing you might be anxious about is talking to a psychologist or psychiatrist. They are there for a reason and they won’t judge you. They’ve studied and dedicated years of their lives to helping others and have promised under oath to doctor-patient confidentiality. They aren’t like those who mock you or romanticize you as depicted in some of the media we watch. In real life, they are genuinely and professionally there to guide you through your struggles. 

One more factor that you might be afraid of is your diagnosis. It’s hard to find the words to describe the fear of confirming you do have a mental illness but there is a certain kind of relief that also comes with knowing that all along, you weren’t crazy. You’re dealing with sickness but that doesn’t mean you’re broken. It’s not a character flaw. You are a person who has experienced a lot of inexplicable moments but these don’t make you any less worthy of care, love, and attention. You are not a burden. 

How I wish there was someone who told me all this back when I first started showing symptoms. Someone to tell me I wasn’t going crazy, and that I deserve the same help as those physically sick. So I am telling you this now because regardless if I know you or not, everyone deserves mental health aid.

As you contemplate your decision to get help, remember that there’s no rush and no pressure. Whenever you’re ready, I’ll be one of those who will support you, whoever and wherever you may be.

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Maxine Nava Valdez
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