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Professional Help vs. Talking to Friends: Why Seeking Mental Health Support Matters

Last updated May 16, 2024

Mental health challenges among U.S. youth are growing each year, so it's important to recognize when you might need to speak to a loved one or trusted adult about seeking professional help. In this article we'll share 10 reasons to consider seeking professional mental health support in times of need. 

Two women sit at a table and talk - Professional Help vs. Talking to Friends: Why Seeking Mental Health Support Matters

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Your friends may not be equipped with the experience or skills to help you through mental health challenges or crises

Most therapists, counselors, and mental health aides are trained and often licensed professionals who have the necessary skills and resources to support you. Your friends may not understand your challenges or the resources that could be beneficial to your mental well-being.

Sometimes you need support, not solutions

Your friends may have a desire to try and solve your problems to help you. While this can be very meaningful, a solution isn't always what's needed. A mental health professional can provide consistent support through challenges that don't have an easy or straightforward solution.

Friends can be biased

An amazing thing about close friends is that they will always try to uplift and protect you. Sometimes that protection can look like avoiding telling you the truth or giving an honest opinion out of fear of hurting you. Seeking mental health support from a counselor or therapist can give you a neutral, unbiased space to seek advice.

Will you be able to return the support?

Reciprocation is important in friendship. If you lean on your friend for support, they might expect you to do the same when they need it. This can potentially strain the friendship down the road. It's important to recognize your own capabilities and limits in giving support, and consider the expectations others might hold in return. This type of reciprocation is not expected with a therapist.

Confidentiality and privacy

Mental health professionals are legally and ethically obligated to keep your information and anything you discuss confidential. Confiding in a friend can be risky if you're sharing sensitive information with them.

A good therapist is nonjudgmental

Being nonjudgmental is a core practice among people who provide mental health support. When talking to a professional, you won't need to worry about being judged for what you do or share. This may be a concern of yours if you confide in a friend instead.

There are clear boundaries

A huge benefit of seeking professional help is that clear boundaries will be set. With friends, you might not feel as comfortable in setting and maintaining boundaries around what you share, which can add stress and confusion to your dynamic. 

Mental health professionals can help you learn more about yourself

Professional healing and therapy spaces are designed to empower you to take action and help you make connections that result in relief or healing. A counselor might offer guidance or recommendations that are tailored to your needs and challenges. This is something you might not find when seeking help from a friend.

Therapy can help you identify and achieve your goals

Professional sessions can help you identify personal goals and develop realistic steps to meet them. Depending on your needs, you can attend sessions on a weekly, monthly, or semi-monthly basis, where your counselor will develop check-ins with you to measure how you’re progressing toward your goals.

Seeking professional help can lead to improvements in all areas of your life

The nonjudgmental support and guidance of a mental health professional can improve many aspects of your life– your perception of yourself, your overall mental and physical health, and your relationship with your loved ones.

Learn more about mental health support

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