Unfortunately, many people in the United States think they’ll be judged if they seek out services to support them and their mental health.
Because of this, many people put off seeing a therapist or going to a mental health treatment center. Instead, they try to work through their issues on their own at home, or may ask a family member or friend to provide support.
This is less than ideal for several reasons. Firstly, when you stay at home and bottle up your issues, you’re likely isolating yourself even more from your loved ones. This isolation leads to you having even more time alone with your thoughts, anxiety, depression, or other mental illness. This can exacerbate your negative thoughts and create even more shame and self-hate.
On the other hand, if you recruit a friend or significant other to be your pseudo-therapist, you’re now putting a lot of pressure on them. They aren’t trained therapists, and they don’t know how to properly help you process your mental health issues. Since this is the case, you are also not getting the proper therapeutic help you need. All of this could lead to more arguments, feelings of resentment, and frustration for your relationship.
Instead of trying to solve your issues on your own or with an untrained loved one, seek out mental health professionals who can help you work through your issues once and for all. Read on to learn how to look for the signs you need to pursue support, and how to go about it.
Reach out when you first notice symptoms
How many of us ignore health issues because we don’t want to go to the doctor? Sure, my ear may hurt, but it’ll probably go away on its own. Yeah, my heart skips a beat every so often – that’s just how I’m built.
We ignore these symptoms for a few reasons. We may not want to pay for the medical bill that accompanies a trip to the doctor. Or we may be worried that this is a sign of something deeper – and we don’t want to know about anything that’s wrong with us.
But let’s look at this from an objective perspective: if I told you that someone was experiencing extreme chest pain, blurred vision, and a tingling left arm – but they refused to go to a doctor, what would you say? That they’re being ridiculous?
This is often the case for people who are experiencing mental health problems. They see the symptoms – maybe they are experiencing shallow breath, sweating, rapid heartbeat, repetitive, negative thoughts, inability to focus – but they ignore them. Because no one wants to have a mental health disorder. Unfortunately, by not seeking help, they’re putting themselves in danger of developing more dangerous behavior, like self-harm or substance abuse.
This is why it’s so important to seek out help as soon as you notice that a symptom is becoming quite regular and alarming. A mental health professional can help you begin to heal so you don’t get to the point of developing these toxic habits.
You may have to wait for treatment
After an extremely difficult year, many people’s mental health has taken a nosedive, and more and more people are seeking out help for the anxiety, grief, and depression they’re experiencing.
However, this influx is starting to overwhelm the available resources. Some therapists are listing 4-6 weeks as the wait time to see new patients. Other professionals aren’t seeing new patients at all, already at their max client load.
While it’s great to see that people are seeking out help for their mental health, the demand is now outpacing the supply, meaning there often aren’t enough therapists to see all the people wanting help.
These are hurdles you’ll have to face before even taking into consideration the insurance you have and the available funds you have to pay for a therapist.
If you have HMO (or in-network) insurance, for example, you may only be able to go to designated therapists who are in your network. You may be even more restricted if you need to see a therapist who can offer a sliding scale payment structure (meaning they offer different prices based on your income level).
For these reasons, you should reach out and book an initial consultation as soon as you believe you may need to see a therapist. You don’t want to wait until you’re at a critical point, and then have to wait a month to receive help.
What treatment should I seek out?
All therapy is not the same. Therapists can have specialities to help people struggling with certain conditions. For example, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy can be very effective for people struggling with trauma or PTSD.
The specialist you seek out depends on what you’re struggling with. Do you find yourself worrying excessively? Look into therapists that specialize in anxiety disorders.
Do you find yourself obsessing over certain things? Maybe you inadvertently count things or look for patterns. Research counselors who treat OCD or other compulsive disorders.
Maybe you’re looking for a therapist who you can relate to and feel comfortable discussing your own experiences of trauma or mental health issues. Think about if you’d feel more comfortable going to a female therapist, or a Black therapist. These people may have shared life experiences of their own that may help you feel safer in opening up to them.
Maybe your mental health has led you to partake in dangerous activities, like substance abuse. In this case, you may want to look into more intensive treatment options, like a holistic treatment center. An example of this is The Exclusive Hawaii, where you can explore the deeper issues that are driving your addictive behavior, and learn practical tools to change your behavior.
Make the call
Regardless of what treatment option you choose, the most important step is making that initial call. Set up an appointment. See how you feel about the therapist. If you don’t think it’s the best fit, don’t write off therapy all together. Like anything in life, sometimes it takes time to find the right person for you.
Rest assured that the right therapist for you is out there – it’s just a matter of finding them.