Mental health is a topic many people avoid or do not care to discuss, but just like any other health issue, it is important to be aware of the factors that can affect a person’s mental well-being. Maintaining mental health is important for every age group, including young children and the elderly. Mental conditions are possible to develop at any point in life and may pose a real risk to the health of an affected individual.
Knowing and understanding the different kinds of mental illnesses and their symptoms is beneficial in determining if an individual needs professional care. Seeking the proper mental health care can be as simple as visiting a doctor, but there are many resources available to assist in finding the right care.
Mental Health Basics
Understanding the basics of mental health is crucial in being able to identify symptoms in yourself, friends or family members. There are many factors that are involved in the development of a mental disorder, such as genetics, brain chemistry and certain life experiences. Experiencing mental health issues throughout your life can affect your mood and the way you think and behave.
Part of understanding mental health is knowing common misconceptions about mental health issues and those who suffer from them. The ideas that many believe about mental health are generally untrue and only serve to stigmatize those with mental health conditions. These misconceptions ultimately cause harm to those who do suffer from these conditions, as they may not seek any help when they need it the most. Misconceptions such as the idea that mental illness is rare or that children cannot suffer from mental health issues can convince individuals that they do not need to seek treatment, which may put them in danger.
When seeking help for mental health conditions, it is worth considering the different types of mental health care professionals available and what level of care they can provide. Seeing a primary care physician is an important place to start, as doctors may be able to prescribe medication or make a referral to a specialist. However, it is important to note that general physicians do not specialize in mental health, so it is always beneficial to see a mental health care specialist. A physician may suggest seeing a therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist depending on the situation. It is important to be honest with your doctor when discussing your mental health so he or she can properly determine which treatment is best for you.
Common Mental Health Conditions
Being familiar with the most common mental health conditions can be helpful in identifying when an individual is struggling with his or her mental health. Despite what many may think, mental health conditions are not altogether rare, though some may not be as apparent as others. Mood disorders are among the most known conditions, but they are rarely understood and can be difficult to identify. Individuals with these disorders do not suffer symptoms at all times, as these conditions tend to be episodic, only lasting for a period of time.
Another type of common mental health conditions is anxiety disorders. Everyone experiences anxiety during situations that are difficult or stressful, but those who suffer from anxiety disorders become easily overwhelmed with daily situations and tasks. Suffering from a disorder of this kind can affect an individual’s quality of life, as it may inhibit him or her from participating in routine daily activities, such as attending school, work or social functions.
Personality disorders function a bit differently than other kinds of mental illnesses. Individuals with a personality disorder have long-term patterns of unhealthy thoughts and behaviors that typically affect the way they relate to themselves and others. Unfortunately, those with personality disorders are usually unable to recognize their behavior as a problem.
Previously considered anxiety disorders, trauma and stress-related disorders affect those who have been exposed to a traumatic or stressful incident. These disorders include Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Acute Stress Disorder (ASD). Individuals with a trauma or stress-related disorder typically suffer from mental flashbacks to the event and lack of sleep due to nightmares.
Types of Mental Health Treatment
Maintaining your mental wellness is possible through mental health treatments. For most, the first step to seeking mental health treatment is to visit a primary care physician. A doctor can determine what course of action is best for a patient struggling with his or her mental health. Mental health counseling is an option for those who have relatively stable mental health but are going through a difficult time in their lives. However, counseling is not the best option for those who struggle with mental health consistently. In these cases, therapy may be a better option. Those who are unable to access mental health care in person also have the option of receiving online mental health service.
Individuals with more severe cases of mental health disorders might be prescribed medication by their doctors or psychiatrists once they have been diagnosed. Only certain mental health care professionals are able to prescribe medication to patients.
Mental Health Resources
There are many mental health resources available for those who are suffering from a mental illness and those who would like to assist a friend or family member in seeking help. Recovery from a mental illness is possible, and studies show that most individuals who receive help improve their mental health.
Talking to your doctor about your mental health is a good step toward finding the right resources. Primary care physicians often refer their patients to the services they feel are right for the given situation. If you need help right away and cannot seek assistance from a health care professional, there are resources available over the phone or online.
If you or someone you know is in a life-threatening situation and needs emergency assistance immediately, call 911. Emergency services can help deal with the situation in a safe manner.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for those who may be suicidal or in distress. Calls are always confidential and toll-free. Calling 1-800-273-TALK will connect you to a trained crisis worker at the nearest Lifeline center. If you are looking for general information on mental health resources in your area, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) is available to help you locate those resources.