Before I proceed; I want to iterate that anything after this is not to be seen as an adequate replacement for seeking individual, clinical mental health treatment. While I am a licensed, independent mental health therapist this piece is to be considered a support/resource...not treatment.
So I've come to realize that the help I give in the mental health realm should not be limited to the four walls of my therapy office. I believe I have quality input on the topic of mental health. I'd be lying if I didn't acknowledge that even in 2018, that the stigma on the topic of mental health is still there; HOWEVER, platforms such as various social media sites have helped to improve basic understanding of mental health topics. Many people automatically assume the terms "mental health" and "mental illness" are synonymous but they are not.
Mental Health vs Mental Illness
"Mental health" is defined as a person's condition regarding his or her emotional well being. This can be healthy/good or unhealthy/not so good. "Mental illness" is an umbrella term used to describe different mental health problems such as mood problems like: depression, and anxiety...to personality disorders like: Borderline Personality Disorder, Dissociative Identity Disorder (aka Multiple Personality Disorder)...to substance abuse disorders like: Opiod Use Disorder, or Cocaine Use Disorder.
Where Can I Go for Help?
If you think you, (or someone you know), is dealing with symptoms of mental illness...and you don't know where to start, your family doctor is a good starting place. Generally, primary care providers can help refer a person out for mental health treatment when needed; and in mild cases may be willing to even start medication management. Primary care providers can start medication, and refer patient's out for mental health treatment; or they can utilize and in-house therapist or "consultant" for help with diagnosis and coordination of care (otherwise known as integrated behavioral healthcare). Integrated Behavioral Healthcare is an emerging sector of mental health in which mental health providers and medical providers work together towards better health outcomes for patients, (I will go into further detail on this type of approach to mental health intervention on a later post).
All this being said, if you are not comfortable going to your doctor for help, getting information from credible mental health sites such as mentalhealth.gov is a great place to start. Also, for additional information please refer to the Resources tab on the site at www.taniamooninc.com/resources.
How is Mental Illness Treated?
Mental health is clinically treated through 1-on-1 therapy/family/group therapy; medication management; and in severe cases—hospitalization.
What are the Different Types of Mental Health Professionals?
I, myself, am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW); but there are a few types of other therapists including the following titles: Doctor of Psychology (PsyD); Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs); and Licensed Marriage & Family Therapists (LMFTs). Mental health medication is often prescribed by a Psychiatrist (a medical doctor with a psychiatric specialty); or a Psychiatric Physician Assistant (PA). Yet, some primary care providers: doctors, nurses, and physician assistants are willing to prescribed mental health medications upon their discretion for mild to moderate mental health issues. Additionally, a Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialists (LCAS) provides substance abuse counseling for people with drug issues.
From my experience, there are nuances in mental health treatment, depending on location; but generally the treatment for patients dealing with mental health problems is the same.
I Don't Know if I'm Comfortable Being Referred to a Therapist...Is there something else I can do?
You can seek support through support groups (either in person locally, or online). To locate in person support groups, just do a simple Google search for "mental health support groups in (enter city, state). Some people, however, are not comfortable with in person engagement so I've discovered an online support group resource at www.support groups.com. This resource has discussion boards, and groups in support to inform and help people get support for various life stressors.
How Do I Help a Loved One Who I'm Concerned is Showing Mental Health Problems?
First off, I suggest not making your loved one/friend feel like something is "wrong with him/her". If the person you are concerned about feels like you are judging him/her, he/she will most likely be irritated and shut you out. My strong SUGGESTION, is to begin by showing him/her that you are generally there for you no matter what. Now if the person is showing severe mental health issues (verbalizing suicidal thoughts/acting suicidal; is seeing things others can't see—visual hallucinations; or hearing voices/sounds others can't—auditory hallucinations; then immediate action should be taken.
For help preventing suicide, please encourage person to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, and/or check out the additional related resources at this link www.taniamooninc.com/resources.
If your loved one looks to be having what is commonly referred to as a "mental breakdown" then, please call 911 or take your loved one to the closest hospital.
I was Diagnosed with a Mental Health Disorder, will I overcome it?
I think the more APPROPRIATE question to ask is: Can I manage my current mental health problem(s) in a healthy way?
With improved self awareness, the proper treatment, the person being accountable for keeping up his/her appointments, and quality support from at least 1 person in one's personal life... the outcomes for a person dealing with mental health problems are hopeful.
I've been trained to view mental health problems with the same depth as healthcare professionals view physical health/medical issues; so just like with going to the doctor to maintain a decent blood pressure...a person needs to be consistent with in his mental health care treatment in order to see progress.
Getting the proper health care starts with acknowledgement that you are emotionally hurting; and that you need help to stop the pain. As long as person is in denial, they'll never get better.
Call to action: My challenge to anyone reading this who thinks they themselves, or someone they know, may be dealing with a mental health issues to not be afraid to reach out for help. Please browse my website for additional information.
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