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Finding Mental Health Help

If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health issue, getting help is the first step to recovery. The good news is that there are more treatments, services and community support systems than ever before. And the vast majority of people who receive treatment have a positive outcome.

The first step to finding mental health help is talking with your primary care doctor. He or she can often refer you to a therapist who specializes in your condition. You can also contact your local community mental health center or check your health insurance provider for coverage options.

When choosing a provider, consider factors such as education, training, years in practice and licensure status. The areas in which the provider specializes are important, as well as their office hours and fees. The National Alliance on Mental Illness has a helpful list of questions to ask a potential provider.

Once you find a mental health professional, be prepared for a thorough evaluation and treatment plan. Depending on your diagnosis, treatment may include psychotherapy talk therapy, lifestyle changes or medicines. Medications are most often used to manage symptoms of serious mental illness, such as mood-stabilizing drugs to treat bipolar disorder and antidepressants for depression. They can also be used with psychotherapy to treat psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia.

Talking with a mental health professional can provide valuable insight into your thoughts, feelings and behavior patterns, which can lead to improved coping skills and reduced stress. You might also learn healthy ways to interact with others and how to deal with triggers. A therapist can also teach you new strategies to reduce or eliminate self-destructive behaviors.

You should also be prepared to take the time to look for the right fit. The first person you see might not “feel” right or may lack expertise in your particular mental health help issue. If this happens, try the next number on your list or search again online or in a phone book. With a little patience and persistence, you’ll find the right person to help you feel better.

In addition to therapy and medication, it’s helpful to join a support group. These groups can provide a safe place to talk about your experiences and listen to others who are also dealing with mental health issues. Many communities have support groups that meet regularly or offer telephone support. You can also find online support groups or talk with friends and family who are going through similar situations.

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