The benefits of seeking professional support

The benefits of seeking professional support

07 April 2022

At times, we can turn to friends, family or even the internet for support when it comes to our mental and physical health, and while informal advice can be useful, it’s important to reach out for more formal, professional support.

Sometimes a quick Google search or a phone call to someone we trust can be an effective way to chat through a problem we may be facing relating to our mental or physical health.

Informal support systems such as these can offer “quick fix” solutions, but when you are faced with more serious concerns about your mental and physical health, seeking out guidance from a health professional is important.

When you need support for your mental health

There can be perceived stigma and negative attitudes towards seeking help and this can be a key reason which might stop individuals from seeking support to improve their mental health. The concern about anticipated discrimination or judgement of appearing “weak” to others is especially predominant within Defence Force culture.

Other common reasons that may stop a person from seeking professional support for their mental health include:

  • Limited access to services
  • Misconceptions on what support entails
  • Lack of awareness relating to issues or feeling too overwhelmed with the idea of addressing concerns

Reaching out for professional mental health support

By accessing professional mental health services, individuals can improve dysfunctional life patterns including:

  • Disrupted sleep
  • PTSD symptoms
  • Unhelpful thinking patterns
  • Thoughts relating to suicide or self-harm
  • Conflict in relationships
  • Difficulties in regulating emotions  
  • Feelings of a lack of control over mental and emotional wellbeing

Seeking professional support for mental health issues can significantly improve different areas of an individual’s functioning including:

  • Improving relationships by working to reduce conflict and distrust and improving communication skills.
  • Improving effective management of strong emotions by using emotional regulation techniques to reduce strong feelings such as isolation, guilt or anger and behavioural activation strategies to address symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Improvement of performance at work and study by reducing late or non-attendance and improving focus and motivation.

Professional psychological support can help develop tools aimed at addressing these challenges and improve quality of life.

Tips for reaching out for support from a psychologist:

  1. Speak to your GP. Letting them know what’s going on is the first step towards an action plan for managing your mental health. Some conversation starters around this include:
    • I haven’t been feeling like myself lately, and I’d like to get some professional mental health support.”
    • I’ve been more tired/anxious/nervous/reactive than usual, and I’m hoping to work on these with a mental health professional. What are some options?
    • I’d like to obtain a referral to see a psychologist to work through some personal things. Would you be able to prepare one for me?
  2. Psychologists are trained professionals. Psychologists are mental health professionals who have completed 6 years of specialised training to support those experiencing a range of mental health issues. They will maintain confidentiality and use evidence-based practice to support you in achieving your therapeutic goals.
  3. There is strength in getting help. We all need help at times, sometimes more than what a friend or an internet search can provide. Your psychologist will support you in finding new approaches and resources to work through difficult times, helping you grow stronger and become better equipped to take on future challenges more effectively. Just like exercise, strength comes from what you work on.

When you need support for your physical health

Ensuring you are keeping active daily is an easy way to look after your physical health, and for some people, this is already a regular part of their schedule.

There are however a range of reasons why people might avoid participating in exercise. These include:

  • Lack of time
  • Feeling embarrassed or having a lack confidence to work out in a public place like the gym
  • Lack of motivation
  • Experiencing chronic pain
  • Being fearful that physical exercise may increase pain or make previous injuries worse.

These reasons may also stop someone from seeking professional help from an exercise physiologist to start exercising more.

If you’re a veteran living with a chronic condition such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic pain or a mental illness, or are experiencing difficulties in starting to exercise, professional help from an exercise expert is vital.

Reaching out for professional physical health support

Exercise physiologists are university-qualified professionals who prescribe exercise as medicine to help prevent and manage a wide range of chronic conditions, injuries, or illness.

Professional support by an exercise physiologist can improve your wellbeing, strengthen your muscles, improve your cardiovascular fitness and heart health, improve your flexibility, and more.

If you’re suffering from chronic pain and are worried about moving more, exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for chronic pain and can lead to a reduction over time. Professional support can help you work through any challenges you face in exercising with chronic pain.

Tips on how to reach out for support from an exercise physiologist:

  1. It’s natural to feel nervous. Sometimes the hardest part can be making the initial appointment, but exercise physiologists are there to support you every step of the way. No matter your existing fitness levels, they are here to help you become the healthiest version of yourself.
  2. Money doesn’t need to be a barrier. By speaking with your GP, you may be eligible for a referral for exercise physiology services through DVA for service-related injuries.
  3. Time is on your side. Even if you’re short of time to attend appointments, any exercise is better than none and an exercise physiologist can provide individualised home exercise programs with regular catch ups as required.

Reach out to the Mates4Mates team

For veterans and families who have been impacted by service, reaching out for professional support plays an important role in their recovery journey.

At Mates4Mates, we have a friendly team of psychologists and exercise physiologists available for face-to-face services as well as telehealth/online appointments.

If you are looking to support your physical and mental health, please call 1300 462 837 (1300 4 MATES) to book an appointment.

 

Written by Kia Karimi, Mates4Mates Psychologist and Jonathon Peers, Mates4Mates Exercise Physiologist 

Tags:
  • Mental health
  • Physical health and wellbeing
  • Veterans

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