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It’s Not Only Okay to Reach Out During a Health Crisis – It’s Recommended

Carrie Steckl earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology with a Minor in Gerontology from Indiana University – Bloomington in 2001. She has spent over ...Read More

For most of us, a health crisis is one of our worst nightmares. Whether it involves an accident or an unexpected diagnosis, the common denominator among health crises is that we are blindsided by them.

We might feel helpless, anxious, fearful, angry, or confused. But even though each health crisis is different, one thing is true about all of them. They shouldn’t have to be faced alone.

In fact, according to many experts in medicine, psychology, and social work, people facing health crises will cope better and may even experience better outcomes if they reach out to others for help.

But this can be difficult for a variety of reasons. Some of us are too proud to ask for help. We may feel embarrassment about our situation. Guilt over inconveniencing others is another factor. Or sometimes, we don’t feel we have anyone we can approach for support.

But the truth is that oftentimes, there are people in your life who are more than willing to help; in fact, they want to help, but they don’t know what you need.

Here are some ideas:

  • Seek out support as soon as the crisis occurs. Having someone to talk to can help you deal with the shock and other strong emotions you might be having.
  • Take someone with you to your medical appointments and hospital visits. This person can act as your advocate, support system, and second set of eyes and ears to absorb all of the information you’re going to encounter.
  • Write down any questions you have before each appointment, and give a copy to the person going with you.
  • Have the person take notes during appointments and hospital visits if you feel you might be too overwhelmed to take them yourself.
  • Make a list of specific things people can do to help you. Then, when family members and friends say, “Let me know how I can help,” you can reply with something concrete. Ask them to bring a meal once a week, or mow your lawn if you won’t be able to for a while.
  • Seek support on social media (e.g., Facebook), only if you feel comfortable sharing personal information in this way. Think carefully before you post something about your health status on a social media outlet. As an alternative, several non-profit associations dedicated to helping people with specific diseases have private online communities that allow people to connect with others facing similar health crises.


Dwass, E. (August 13, 2014). Don’t go it alone if battling bad health. Chicago Tribune (Kindle version).

Keep Reading By Author Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.
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