Approximately one in five U.S. adults will experience some kind of mental health issue each year. Serious mental health issues that can impact or interfere with life in a major way will be experienced by 1 in 25 U.S. adults. However, despite the prevalence of these mental illnesses and disorders, many Americans may not know how or where to look for help for their own mental health.
If you are suffering from a mental illness, substance use disorder or another similar issue, it is important not to wait before seeking help. Finding assistance can be much easier than you may think. Your doctor can help diagnose you and determine the type of treatment you will need. There are also a number of emergency centers and non-profit groups that offer assistance without referral from a doctor.
Seeking help as soon as you need it can help minimize the impact your mental health condition has on your life and the lives of those around you. The sooner you seek help, the sooner you can learn to gain control over your the problems you are experiencing. More information about how you can find mental health for yourself is covered in the subjects below.
Immediate Help for Mental Health
While there are many resources available to diagnose and treat mental illnesses or disorders in the long term, you might require help right away. If you are suicidal or are experiencing severe emotional distress, you should contact a crisis care center or hotline. It is important to seek consistent mental health care after the crisis has passed, but for immediate help contact these confidential emergency services, which are available all throughout the United States:
- Emergency Medical Services, 911.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
- National Suicide Prevention Live Online Chat.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
- SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline, 1-877-SAMHSA7 (1-877-726-4727)
- IMAlive, 1-800-784-2433
- Mental Health America, 1-800-985-5990
- National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
Initial Screening and Diagnosis
If you are unsure of the type of assistance you might need, try speaking to your primary care physician first, as she or he will be able to perform a diagnostic psychological assessment. Having a correct diagnosis will be crucial in finding the best possible care for your mental health needs. The doctor will administer physical tests as part of the diagnosis, screening for issues such as substance addiction. Your mental health symptoms might also be caused by a physical condition, such as a problem with your thyroid gland, making it very important to speak to your doctor before seeking further help.
If you want to try and make sense of the way you are feeling before you see a doctor, there are some online mental health services, such as screening tools, which you can use to initially assess your symptoms. However, these cannot take the place of an official diagnosis. You should always seek medical advice if you think you might be suffering from any kind of mental illness, disorder or addiction.
Although hospitalization for a mental health disorder is not common, it can be a very helpful for some individuals, particularly those with severe problems that need consistent attention under a controlled setting. Your health may need to be monitored as you adjust to your medication, for example. You may also find that a hospital stay will help you to let go of daily stresses as you focus on your mental health needs.
If you need to be hospitalized or choose to be hospitalized for the sake of your mental health, make sure to draw up a Psychiatric Advance Directive beforehand. This is a legal document determining the treatments and services you want in case you have difficulty making decisions or communicating at any later point during your treatment.
Finding a Mental Health Provider
The type of treatment you require can depend on the nature of your illness or disorder. Your primary care physician may be able to provide you with a recommendation or referral. However, it is also important to make sure your insurance will cover your care. As a result, you may need to choose from a list of providers covered by your plan.
National mental health initiatives and programs such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness or Mental Health America may be able to find you an accessible and affordable provider in your area. The nature of your illness or condition will also determine the best provider for you. If your condition is very specific, you may need to seek help from a specialized mental health professional.
You can be treated by more than one doctor at a time, but when considering treatment options, you may need to choose between different types of medical health professionals:
- Psychiatrists are medical doctors and can prescribe medication.
- Psychologists will make mental health diagnoses and provide therapy to individuals and groups.
- Counselors and clinical social workers provide diagnoses, group and individual counseling.
- Nurse Psychotherapists are registered nurses who can provide diagnoses and therapy.
- Pastoral counselors are members of the clergy with certifications in counseling.
- Specialized, certified counselors include those such as marital and family therapists, or drug and alcohol abuse counselors.
Finding Help from Support Groups
Support groups can be an excellent way to help your mental health treatment. They allow you to connect with others who share your illness, addiction or concern in a confidential environment. There are many support groups that focus on a specific area of mental health, giving participants a chance to share experiences and use social connection as part of their treatment.
Some groups are peer directed, while others are organized and led by mental health professionals. There are a variety of online directories available to help you find a mental health support group in your area. You may even be able to find an online support group if there are no local groups available.
When you are experiencing mental health issues, taking the first step is not always easy. However, it is important to remember that mental health professionals are trained to be non-judgmental and prioritize your wellness. If you are experiencing a mental health issue, no matter how large or small, talking with a professional can help.