Why People Don’t Open Up And Seek Help?

Why people don’t open up and seek help? Why do they keep to themselves? Why do they choose to suffer in silence rather than talking to someone? Because there is already a lot of fear and shame associated with mental illness, such that an individual feels he/she would never get any better and no one will understand them.

Have you ever made someone feel so safe and secure around you that venting out becomes easy for them? If you have, a big virtual hug to you and if you haven’t but since you landed on this blog, I will try to help you out with a few basic reasons why people don’t open up and seek help even when facing huge mental distress.

Why people don't open up and seek help

6 Reasons Why People Don’t Open Up And Seek Help

When someone is going through personal trouble pertaining to their relationship, married life, financial condition or any other kind of social or environmental pressure, they need someone to confide in. Someone they can talk to freely without the fear of getting judged or criticised.

But a majority of percentage of the people around us prefer to keep to themselves because they hardly find someone who can actively listen to them. We have this bad habit of jumping to conclusions, giving advice, comparing situation and even problems, that diminishes the listening part. Below are a few barriers that make opening up difficult:

1.) Comparison

People even compare the pain, can you believe that? It is like when you share your problem with someone and they say, “this is nothing you are facing/what you are going through is nothing in front of what I went through a decade ago”.

This kind of statement acts like a biggest turn off to someone in a tough spot, because for them their pain matters, it is hurting them, no matter how big or small it appears to you. When you compare their problems with others or your past/ existing problems, you make them feel dejected and they might never open up to you ever again.

2.) Dismissal

One of the biggest reason why people don’t open up and seek help. As I talk to many individuals on daily basis, who are going through different situations in their life, I always come across this common problem, that they get dismissed about how they are feeling.

When you tell someone that what they are feeling is a result of overthinking, or you are simply making it up, you dismiss their feelings. They need validation, assurance. Probably, they might be making it up but let them help realise it, do not shut them out by saying things that will only make them feel more alone and sad.

3.) Inactive Listening

How many of us really listen? We often hear and wait for our turn to speak, we have a lot to share but do we actively listen to what is being shared with us?

A person sharing a part of his life is trusting you and when you just overhear them and jump to conclusions in hurry, they feel so miserable, that they might never ever open up with you again.

4.) Being judgmental

Another toxic reason why people don’t open up and seek help is, whom should they seek help? People don’t get tired of judging you. Even if you somehow share your story with others, they judge you, provide unwanted advice, and after a few days, they might as well forget what you told them.

Being sensitive towards others is an essential trait majority of people lack and people fail to draw a thick line between what to say and what not to say. Being judgmental is easy when you are unfamiliar with the pain.

5.) Unavailability

Through my counselling experiences, I know how someone feels when their friends or relatives abandon them, ignore their calls and messages, just because they feel the person will bore them with their sorry story.

This unavailability creates a lot of restlessness and anxiousness because they are unable to vent out, unable to speak and share. When they repeatedly face this unavailability from their near ones, they refrain from sharing anything with them in future.

6.) Conditioning

We are never taught emotional language, the ability to express our feelings, our vulnerabilities, and that’s how we lack to vocalise about how we feel. We are taught to stay strong, but we are not aware that being vulnerable is also ok. We glorify success but failing in a few chapters of life doesn’t make you a social failure.

The Truth Behind “I am Fine”

Asking how are you, is a norm or a part of our daily conversation but reply as “I am fine” is more of a forceful action we do because we can’t tell everybody about our real feelings. We can’t open up and say ” I am not feeling good today” or ” I am feeling low today”.. even if you try doing it there would be very few hands trying to reach you and check on you.

You know this, hence you chose to keep it simple by saying I am fine when most of the time you are not fine. Thousands of thoughts might be racing in the back of your mind, yet you ignore them and suppress your feelings because you don’t find a safe space to open up.

To conclude I would say, no matter what, this kind of behavioural approach by others doesn’t help at all. Staying ignorant and insensitive is the reason why people don’t open up and seek help. Ultimately leading to loads of accumulated stress and guilt inside.

There are many stigmas attached to mental health which makes it harder to open up for one and when we as a community fail to stay aware and alert, we are simply adding to the mess. So if you want to really help someone you need to adapt these few attributes right away:

1.) Provide a safe space, make them feel comfortable

2.) Drop your biases

3.) Be non-judgmental

4.) Be an active listener

5.) Don’t offer solutions until asked for

6.) Avoid sharing other stories

7.) Reassure

8.) Validate

9.) Keep a regular check

10.) Ensure your availability

Love and light


Why people don't open up and seek help

Priyanka Nair is the author of 26 Days 26 Ways for a Happier you and Ardhaviram. An NLP practitioner and Founder of Sanity Daily, helping you prioritize your mental health. Let’s build a happy community.

This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla.

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59 Responses

  1. Couldn’t agree more on this Priyanka, we are never taught emotional language, that hinders ourselves to express the truthful feelings. Also I completely agree on the point that ‘people hear you to reply back not to understand you’ is trending attitude now a days.

  2. Bring an EQ coach myself, could relate with all that your have mentioned. The only thing people who are going through mental stress need is some one whi can just listen to them without being bias and non judgmental. Once they express themselves, their problem is half solved and they could actually think clearly.

  3. As I go through this every day, I can feel every bit of this post, Priyanka. It’s still a thing that I can’t overcome and share my happy face all over when the truth is something else. Very nicely put all the points. Loved your post.

  4. All most people need is an outlet to vent and share their experiences and circumstances. If only people could just give an unbiased listen, a little reassurance from time to time…things wouldn’t be so dire and frustrating.Such a valid post

  5. Such a well written post , Priyanka. It is so true that most of us are not active listeners and either try to dismiss the other person’s problems or compare with ours. We need to change our attitude first ! All the points that you have share are valid and very helpful

  6. Very true – each word of it….My dad being a psychiatrist probably helped me understand all this more from a very early age; Yes, i hope we listened more and spoke less……the endless and incessantly inane banter of a majority of individuals and some more who think of only themsleves is a put off… Picking up the signals is what my instinctive educator gut does all the time and I have been right 100% of the times much to the surprise of even the parents of the child. Thumbs up to your post!!!!

  7. Yes, totally agree with all the points you’ve shared here. Without judging a person how many of us do listen to the person who really is in need? People should change their mental set-up and try to be more friendly so that he/she can properly vent out their feelings.

  8. This post makes so much sense and I am glad you included the comparison that starts when people share their problem. I have also noticed that some people pretend to help or listen to satiate the curiosity they have or else to spread, what a troubled person has shared with you, as malicious gossip.

  9. Being judgemental and comparison is what has stopped me also many a times from shring my pain. I hate it when your sharing your pain and people compare it with theirs. At that moment the person sharing is not looking for examples or comparison he is just looking for a shoulder to cry on.

  10. Glad I found your blog. Its important to know how to support the people around you. Sometimes you mean well but it can look so wrong to the person suffering.

  11. Very nicely articulated. Many times we put ourselves in a place of authority when we respond which i feel leads to many of the things mentioned. If we listen as friends the connect will be more

  12. You always have the right words to express your thoughts, Priyanka. Each and every word has such a nice flow that it is a pleasure to read. There r very few listeners and hardly any empathetic people in this world.

  13. I could not agree more with all of the points you mentioned in the post. (0% are not listening who need them and always try to compare with their own and 10% do not care if someone really needs them or not. the fear of rejection and being judged by others are the main reason people do not open up to others.

  14. Priyanka , such a nice post…I am not able to understand why people are so judgemental instead of being a little sensitive about mental illness. How many storms already that ‘someone’ is going through and what they want is just a little support and care. If people can’t support them atleast they can show a little courtesy to not to be judgemental.

  15. We have been taught to listen more and speak less. The fear of ‘society’ and the unavailability of buddies stops from opening up. I hope the issue garners more attention because many people are suffering from mental ailments.

  16. I human being is never taught to express his or her emotions or problem in front of other… They think that it makes them weak from inside… Most of the people even make fun of their problems…. Thanks for sharing this post.

  17. Exactly, Priyanka. Most people listen to reply… they cannot wait for the other person to stop talking to get their thoughts in. There are very few good listeners. And then there is the whole “Chin up, I went through this too and got over it”.

  18. Every points is valid here Priyanka. Sometimes people do not want to listen they just ignore, judge or simply say you are overthinking. Great and really helpful post.

  19. Each and every barrier you have written about is absolutely correct. I am sick and tired of the words “stay strong”. It is really sad, but it looks like people need to be taught empathy too.

  20. I think most important reason is fear of being judged and laughed at. We think way too much before reaching out for help. A lot of awareness has been there in past few years but a lot is needed also.

  21. The problem with a human being is we judge everyone even before we know them. This quality even though bad is carried by many and I loved the quote that said we listen not to be heard but to reply. Hope this changes and people who need help and love do get it.

  22. When you compare their problems with others or your past/ existing problems, you make them feel dejected and they might never open up to you ever again. One of the biggest reason why people don’t open up and seek help.

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