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Explains what trauma is and how it affects your mental health. Includes tips for helping yourself, what treatments are available and how to overcome barriers to getting support. Also has tips for supporting someone else who has gone through trauma.

Mae'r dudalen hon hefyd ar gael yn Gymraeg. This link will take you to a Welsh translation of this page.

This page has information about:

These are just some of the barriers people may experience when seeking help for trauma. You might face others that aren't listed here.

We have more information on barriers to accessing mental healthcare, and on how to make yourself heard.

I had an accident that left me unable to walk. I still cannot talk about the details outside of a therapy setting.

Barriers to opening up about trauma

Recovering from trauma can often include talking about what happened. And developing our own way of thinking about what happened.

This can be a difficult process. You may find that certain things make it harder to open up. For example:

Experiencing stigma and blame

There can be stigma around certain types of trauma and experiences. This can make it difficult to talk about what's happened to you. You might worry that people will blame you for the trauma. Maybe this happened to you in the past. This can make it hard to trust people.

Feeling unsafe

You might not be able to tell anyone about your trauma because you're scared for safety. For example, if you're experiencing abuse from a family member or someone you're living with.

If you're experiencing abuse from a partner, family member, or someone in a position of power, help is available. See our useful contacts page for who to contact when you are unsafe.

Struggling to talk or cope with what happened

Talking about a traumatic experience can bring up very strong feelings. It may trigger reactions like panic attacks, dissociation or suicidal feelings.

You may also not remember what happened or know how to understand your experiences. This can make it hard to talk about.

And there might be times when you feel like you just can't cope, or it all seems too hard. This can make it feel much harder to open up about what you're going through. 

People misunderstanding trauma

Some people might not understand trauma like you do. This might mean they don't understand your strengths or what's helped you survive. For example, you might feel that your coping mechanisms are being judged or criticised.

Family or community members may be hostile or critical if you seek help. Or they may deny or dismiss what you're going through.

Some people might not understand why you found a certain experience traumatic. This is especially if they experienced something similar and feel differently about it. 

20 years ago I left my family home and moved 250 miles to get away from a prolonged family trauma. I didn’t want to be around my family because of their opinions and behaviour.

Barriers to seeking help for trauma

Seeking help for the effects of trauma can be difficult. You might sometimes face barriers to getting the support you need. For example:

Bad experiences of seeking help

This may include professionals not listening to you or helping you. Or if you've been harmed by poor healthcare. If you try something and it doesn't help, it can feel harder to try again. 

Explaining things to many people

You may talk to several healthcare professionals before you can get the right support. This could mean you're asked the same questions a number of times. You may have to recount your traumatic experiences more than you feel comfortable doing.

Getting the right help for you

Some professionals may emphasise treatments that don't feel right for you, such as medication. You might prefer them to address the causes of the trauma you're experiencing.

Too much focus on trauma

Some professionals may try to define you by your trauma. They might use it to explain everything you do or feel, even if you don't feel like it's related. You might also be given a diagnosis you don't agree with because of your trauma.

Professionals don't recognise your trauma

Some professionals may not recognise your experiences as traumatic. This could be because they have a different idea of what they think trauma is. This can be a very distressing experience.

Some professionals might also believe harmful stereotypes about certain groups of people. These stereotypes could lead them to dismiss experiences of trauma. For example, women being dismissed as overly emotional or overreacting, rather than their experiences and symptoms being taken seriously.

My time at hospital is something I’ve sought support for in therapy since leaving – it was that bad.

If you're unhappy with how professionals are treating you, you can complain. See our pages on complaining about health and social care to learn more. 

If you've been abused by health and social care professionals, our page on abuse has some organisations that can help.

How can I overcome these barriers?

If you're facing barriers like these, here are some things that could help:

  • Write things down. This could help if it's too hard to say things out loud or you don't want to repeat them. 
  • Focus on safety. If you're restricted in what you can talk about, focus on making sure you're safe. Having a safety plan could help keep you safe, even if you can't leave home straight away. End the Fear has a safety plan template you can download and fill out.
  • Choose what you share. What you tell people about your experiences is up to you. You don't need to tell your whole story, or even any of it. Your feelings are valid and you deserve support.
  • Tell people what sort of support you would like. For example, asking someone to listen and not give you advice.
  • Ask professionals about their expertise. You can ask if they have specific training and experience of working with trauma. And about anything else that concerns you.
  • Show people this information. It may help them to learn more about trauma.
  • Anyone can try therapy. Some people think you can only get help from a therapist if you feel ready to open up. But this isn't true. Therapists who understand trauma should support you and help you cope, regardless of how much you can share.
  • Make choices where you can. For example, you might be able to request a therapist of a particular gender. Or choose to sit facing the door if that feels safer for you. See our information on getting the most from therapy for more suggestions.
  • Focus on how you feel now. It doesn't matter whether you remember or understand what happened. You can still seek help for how the trauma has affected you, and for what you're experiencing you now.
  • Talk to Mind. Our Infoline can help you explore options for support near you. And we have local Mind branches in England and Wales who provide a range of helpful services.

If you've tried something and it hasn't helped, try to be gentle and patient with yourself. Coping with the effects of trauma can be difficult. It can take a lot of time and energy. But many people find that when they have the right combination of treatments, self-care and support, it is possible to feel better.

This information was published in December 2023. We will revise it in 2026.

References and bibliography available on request.

If you want to reproduce this content, see our permissions and licensing page.

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