When as a society we think of getting and being healthy, we typically think of physical aspects. We think of losing weight, gaining muscle, and looking athletic. What most of us fail to remember is that our mental health is just as important as our physical health.
Mental health disorders are real and often treatable. Many individuals either have been or will be diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Some mental health issues may be minor and short-term. Others may be more severe and require help from a professional.
Today in the midst of a pandemic, political turmoil, and civil turmoil, the mental health of millions of people is at risk.
According to Mental Health America, “as the number of cases of COVID-19 increases, so does the associated anxiety. For the general public, the mental health effects of COVID-19 are as essential to address as are the physical health effects. And for the one in five who already have mental health conditions – or the one in two who are at risk of developing them – we need to take personal, professional, and policy measures now to address them.”
If you are in need of a mental health professional here are some tips to follow.
Where to Find Help
One of the best places to start would be your family physician who can refer you to a proper specialist. Which type of specialist you go for help will depend on the nature of the problem and your symptoms. Your family physician can do an assessment and determine where to refer you. A local health department, mental health facility, or a crisis center are also other available options.
Try getting a few contact names, so you can research more than one facility before choosing a provider. Also, if you have health insurance, they may be able to provide a list of mental health providers who are covered in your plan. Your local health department or community mental health center may provide free or low-cost care.
One supplemental program is peer support groups. They can serve as an important addition to the help you receive from professional mental health providers. Support groups can be a valuable resource. These groups are usually led by a layperson. They are designed to bring individuals together who have similar mental health or substance abuse Illnesses. Other organized types of support groups are drop-in centers, warmlines, and training courses in mental health wellness and recovery.
Types of Mental Health Professionals
- Psychiatrist is a medical doctor trained in the diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional illnesses. One distinction is that they can prescribe medication.
- Psychologist is a professional with a doctoral degree in psychology who is trained to diagnose and provide a variety of therapies. In some states, psychologists are also able to prescribe medication.
- Clinical Social Worker is a counselor with a degree in social work. They are trained to diagnose mental conditions and provide many types of counseling.
- Licensed Professional Counselor is a counselor with a master’s degree in psychology and counseling. They are trained to diagnose and provide counseling.
- Mental Health Counselor is a counselor with a master’s degree and trained to diagnose and provide counseling.
- Pastoral Counselor is a member of the clergy with training in clinical pastoral education. They are also trained to diagnose and provide counseling.
How to choose a Mental Health Professional
Talk with the professional on the phone. Ask questions about their approach, philosophy, specialty, or concentration. Once you have selected a specific counselor or doctor you feel comfortable with, the next step is to schedule an office visit.
Your first visit will consist of talking with the therapist or doctor to allow them to get to know you and your circumstances for the visit. They will ask you what you think the problem is. They will ask about your life, job, living arrangements, family, and friends. Even though you may feel this information is personal, it will help the professional to assess your situation and develop a treatment plan.
As you start working through your treatment plan, you should start to feel improvement. You should feel you trust your therapist and feel better about whatever circumstances you are there to face.
You should start to become more comfortable in your relationship over time. Your treatment plan may be painful and uncomfortable at times. The more you actively participate in the treatments the better you will be able to cope with your feelings more effectively.