When we trip and fall, we take care to keep our bruises safe and avoid the hazards that might’ve contributed to our injury. When we seriously hurt ourselves, we call for emergency help and seek out a medical professional… and when we are struggling internally, it’s important to know when and how to get help for mental health problems.
Mental health conditions require just as much care, both preventative and curative, as our myriad physical ailments. Yet few people seek out the care they need for their mental health, whether it’s counseling, medication, or intensive one-on-one therapy.
Understanding when and how mental health care is applied can help you see why it may be necessary – and why you shouldn’t hesitate to call for help whenever you need it.
Do You Need Help?
In our modern society, there is much emphasis on the importance of personal responsibility, work ethic, and the role that our choices and perspectives play in how we feel.
Yet through that emphasis on the individual, we lose sight of the many ways in which things often happen outside of our control. In the same way you might catch the stomach flu or slip and break your arm, the concurrent stressors that affect our day in and out can lead to the development of mental burnout, anxiety symptoms, serious depression, or even suicidal intent.
People who struggle with their mental health might often feel like their plight is imagined or that their symptoms are a sign of weakness.
We need to learn to let go of that mentality and recognize that symptoms of a mental health issue need to be taken every bit as seriously as a debilitating physical condition.
Recognizing the symptoms of a mental health issue before it becomes borderline unmanageable and knowing how to get help for mental health is as important as seeing a doctor before a wound festers and becomes gangrenous.
The next time you find yourself feeling tremendously down or struggling with what used to feel like a basic task, take stock of how you’ve been feeling lately.
- Have you been turning down your friends a lot and hanging out mostly at home?
- Have you been deliberately isolating yourself? Are you struggling to enjoy the things you used to enjoy?
- Do you feel constantly tired?
- Do you feel like your evenings and weekends are no longer helping you refresh between workdays?
- Do you find yourself constantly telling yourself to simply make it through “just one more week?”
Mental health issues have become so ubiquitous and so chronically underdiagnosed that we often tell ourselves that feeling this way is a sign of adulthood and responsibility, rather than the beginning stages of burnout and a foreboding sign of future stress-related illnesses.
When you find yourself feeling increasingly worse as the weeks go by, know that it isn’t just imagined, and it certainly isn’t meant to be normal. Know that it’s time to seek help.
Finding the Right Kind of Help
When your mole changes shape, size, and color, you go to see your general practitioner or family doctor. When you’re feeling a little sick and don’t know what it is, you’ll make your favorite tea and try to get some early sleep. When you’ve cut yourself on broken glass and begun bleeding profusely, you get yourself to the emergency room.
In much the same way that there are different and appropriate responses to any severity of a physical ailment, there are different degrees of responses on how to get help for mental health conditions.
Psychiatrist vs Psychologist
If you’ve been struggling to recover from your stress at work and find yourself drifting into bad coping habits – whether it’s just a bit of recreational gambling, uncontrollable spending, the odd nightcap or weekend binge, or something else entirely – you should consider seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist.
These mental health professionals are medically trained, with the core distinction that psychiatrists can prescribe medication and psychologists cannot. Both can administer other forms of treatment, including therapy.
Therapists are another class of formally trained mental health professionals who can apply different forms of therapy modalities, often at the behest or recommendation of another mental health professional. However, therapists without qualifications as a psychologist or psychiatrist cannot make formal diagnoses of mental illnesses.
Counselors also offer help and will usually be employed in schools, organizations, and businesses to help staff and students address their emotional health and myriad mental concerns, improve productivity and mental well-being, and help recommend individuals to treatment.
If you have a counselor at school or at your workplace, a good place to start looking for help would be through them. While counselors can be qualified medical personnel and may be trained doctors, many aren’t and will instead refer you to another professional if they feel that you need specialized help.
Alternatively, if you know a therapist or psychiatrist, you should schedule an appointment with them whenever you feel you might need to talk about what’s been going in your head lately. Therapy is not always exclusive to the treatment of a specific mental health condition. You can and should seek therapy, even if it’s just to deal with current stressors, address and improve your coping skills, or help put a name to the feelings you’ve been having.
Is It Serious?
It does not matter. If you find yourself at a point where you wonder if your condition has been serious enough to warrant seeing a professional, you should absolutely see a professional.
In the best-case scenario, your respective therapist or counselor will simply advise you to take a week off or help you formulate a few healthy coping skills to try and practice at home in order to regulate your thoughts and emotions.
In the worst-case scenario, seeking help early will lead you to the care of a mental health professional who can accurately diagnose your condition and put you on a treatment plan that minimizes the effect it might have on your day-to-day life.
Do Not Ignore the Warning Signs
If you have been experiencing any of the following, you should consider talking to a professional:
- Sudden and dramatic changes to your mood, absent of any immediate grief or trauma.
- Lack of ability to feel joy or pleasure in things you used to like.
- Feeling apathetic most days, out of nowhere.
- Outbursts of anger, even violence.
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicidal ideation.
- Finding yourself increasingly isolated from friends and family.
- Withdrawing to old, painful habits, especially signs of addiction (drug use, gambling, high-risk behavior).
- Sudden unexplained physical changes, hot flashes, feelings of panic, chest tightness, trouble breathing, unexplained stomach aches, and other pains.
- Extreme drop or sharp increase in appetite.
- And more.
Seeking Mental Help for Others
It’s one thing to decide that you might need therapy. It’s another to worry about your loved one and how they’ve been feeling.
If you’re worried about a friend or loved one, the first thing to do is talk to them about it. They might agree to see a professional if you promise to help them through every step of the way or support them in treatment.
Alternatively, they might help you understand why they’ve been acting strange. If your loved one might require treatment but is unwilling to give it a try, know that you can’t force them into it. You can, however, talk to a mental health professional about different ways to approach the topic in the future and maybe convince them to see a counselor or therapist.
Get Mental Health Treatment in Malibu
Now that you know how to get help for mental health, why not reach out to Amend Treatment? We’re just one phone call away from helping you achieve a better life.