Editor’s note: if you are feeling suicidal, please call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255 and if there is a medical emergency, call 911.
Getting help can be difficult for some people, but remember that your mental health is just as important as your physical well-being. There is no shame in seeking help for whatever you may be going through, in fact, you should make it a priority.
Not everyone who has a mental illness looks the same. Mental health issues can affect anyone, regardless of race, class, or gender. Many people are unaware that 18.2 percent of adult United States population has a mental disorder and over 20 percent of U.S. youth have mental disorders according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Here is a comprehensive guide on how to seek outpatient help for your mental health.
- Write down your feelings in a journal. This can help you articulate your feelings, especially because describing how you feel is not always straightforward.
- Tell a trusted adult or friend how you are feeling.
- Ask your parent or guardian if you can see a therapist/psychologist. Depending on how aware your parent is of how mental health works, this may be easy or difficult for them to understand. Let them know that seeing a mental health professional is not strange, and is a completely normal, healthy thing to do. Try to find a therapist that is covered by your insurance. You may have to pay a co-pay for each appointment. Also, in this area, there is a severe shortage of available mental health professionals available to see new patients, so it may take a while to find one, especially one that is covered by your insurance.
- There are several types of therapy. Individual therapy, family therapy, and group therapy are a few types that you may come across. Some common therapy methods are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). CBT is a form of talk-therapy in which you tell a psychologist about issues you are facing. DBT is a form of therapy used for people who deal with Borderline Personality Disorder, depression, self-harm, suicidal ideation, or other various mental illnesses. This type of therapy is structured to teach modules of lessons and different types of coping skills to overcome your problems. Occupational therapy involves doing various activities to help your mental health. Your therapist will use one or several of these methods to give you coping skills and help your mindset to be more capable of dealing with your mental health. They might recommend that you go to an Intensive Outpatient Program if your situation is more serious, or, if you are feeling suicidal, they might send you to an Inpatient Adolescent Psychiatric Ward on a 5150 hold.
- Your therapist may diagnose you with a mental disorder, depending on how serious your mental health issues are. A diagnosis can be helpful in learning what to target in your therapy sessions but also know that a diagnosis does not define you. You are more than your diagnosis.
- If needed, your therapist may recommend that you also see a psychiatrist to prescribe medication for you. Therapists and psychiatrists are different because therapists cannot prescribe medication, but psychiatrists can. Keep in mind that it can take a while to find a psychiatrist in this area that is open to seeing new patients and is covered by your insurance. A psychiatrist may give you some questionnaires to see specific symptoms that you are feeling, and then go from there to decide which medication to prescribe. Your parents have to approve the medication if you are under 18 years old. Mental health medication is covered by healthcare and many insurance companies. Be aware of the side-effects you may face while on medication, and know what causes dangerous interactions. Your psychiatrist will monitor your reactions to the medication and decide the right dosage. Be patient; many medications take weeks or even a few months to go into effect. Even after the medication starts affecting you, you may have to try a few different medications to find the one that works for you. There is no one-size-fits-all for medication. What works for someone else may not work for you at all.
This list may seem complicated, but with the help of a parent or guardian, you should be able to find the help you need.