What Do I Do When Mental Health Coping Strategies Don’t Work?

June 13, 2022 Laura A. Barton

Searching for or asking about mental health coping strategies brings up fairly regular suggestions, which include things like meditation, journaling, exercise, and self-care. But, what’s to be done when the chosen strategies to cope with mental health struggles no longer work? It might be easy to fall into self-stigmatizing thoughts of how you must be really “messed up” or beyond help, but here’s why you should reconsider that line of thinking.

My Ways to Cope with Mental Health Struggles Aren’t Working

Yup, you read that right: my mental health coping strategies are not working. Despite the tools and knowledge I have at my disposal, right now, it’s challenging for me to alleviate the symptoms I feel related to my depression, in particular, and to some extent, my anxiety.

One of the strategies is something I recommend frequently, but long ago lost its effectiveness on me, and that’s journaling. Back when I was first trying to calm the chaos in my mind and get a handle on my mental health struggles, journaling was very helpful for taking the jumbled mess inside my head and sorting it on paper in a way I could marinate over and make sense of.

This strategy, however, no longer works for me because I’m well past the stage of trying to sort through my thoughts to get a grip on understanding them. I’m at the point when I need to actively deal with combating them.

Another strategy I’ve highlighted previously is exercise. For me, it was a helpful way to shut off my mind and focus on the movements of my body. It gave me peace and quiet for the 30 minutes or the hour or however long I was in the gym. While my mind still does shut off to an extent, I don’t find it as relieving as I used to.

Use Mental Health Coping Strategies that Fit Your Current Needs

So, what does that mean? Does it mean I’m even more broken than I was when I started? Does it mean I’m, as I mentioned in the beginning, really “messed up?” No, not at all. It just means I need to use different mental health coping strategies—ones that fit my needs for where I am now.

It’s totally okay if something that once worked wonders has lost its power or lustre. It’s okay if something that works really well for a friend or a stranger on the Internet doesn’t work for you. While searching for mental health coping strategies might bring up a common list of suggestions, that list isn’t exhaustive or one-size-fits-all.

Jumping immediately to negative self-talk is a fast track to mental health self-stigma if you’re not already there. Even I have to remind myself sometimes that it’s all right that meditation has never worked for me and that my old strategies that I loved have fizzled. Self-stigma is just another weight that I don’t need on my journey. So, instead of leaning into the negative thoughts, I’ll fight back and find new coping strategies to try.

APA Reference
Barton, L. (2022, June 13). What Do I Do When Mental Health Coping Strategies Don’t Work?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Author: Laura A. Barton

Laura A. Barton is a fiction and non-fiction writer from Ontario, Canada. Follow her writing journey and book love on Instagram, and Goodreads.

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