Written By: Mercedes Braxton, LPC, NCC, Contributing Therapist
How does one know they are in need of mental health services? Often times, people are aware something is ‘off’ or ‘wrong’, but are either unable to understand what they are feeling or do not want to address it based on the negative stigmas attached to mental health treatment. However, mental health treatment is as important as your physical health!
Mental health treatment is eclectic in the fact that there are multiple avenues that one can engage in to receive mental health services. For example, there is inpatient hospitalization, partial hospitalization programs, residential programs, intensive outpatient programs, community therapy, group therapy and private practice. While this is not an exhaustive list, these are common forms of treatment for mental health. Each level of mental health treatment has the goal of treating the individual where they are and for whatever they may be struggling with. Determining the appropriate level of treatment is key, although it can be a process. An effective way of determining the appropriate level of treatment is by a consultation with a mental health professional and, further, a mental health assessment. Assessments provide detailed information about a client’s history, presenting problem, diagnostic measures, treatment goals recommendations and more.
How do I find treatment that is right for me? In cases of life-threatening emergencies, it is recommended to call 911 or go to your local emergency room. In other cases, one might not know exactly where to start. One way to start could be contacting a mental health professional for a consultation and expressing to them what you are experiencing. They would then be able to recommend an appropriate level of care. In most cases, you would need to be seen for a mental health assessment which would further provide recommendations for your treatment. Advocating for yourself is important because you are aware of your experiences, your thoughts, your feelings and how it is impacting you. When advocating for yourself, keep the following in mind: communicate your symptoms/thoughts/ feelings/experiences in an honest and forthcoming manner, educate yourself on mental health, be open to the journey and process of treatment, ask questions, and know your rights.
How do I find the right mental health professional for me? When searching for a mental health professional, you need to consider a few questions: what specialties does this professional work in, have they worked with clients before who are experiencing what you are experiencing, what is their therapeutic modality (if you are looking for something specific), what would a session with them look like and more. Some people also consider gender, race, age, etcetera in the search for mental health services; while these considerations matter and are important, remember not to cancel out an opportunity that may actually be positively impactful. An important reminder is to never feel the pressure to continue with a professional you find is not the right fit for you. This is your journey!
What does therapy look like? Disclaimer, every mental health professional is different! However, you should expect to be heard and have the space to process (this can be different for each professional) through your struggles, learn coping skills and ways of moving forward. Expect to be held accountable, but given grace in a nonjudgmental manner. I want to encourage you all, no matter how big or small your issue may be, invest in your mental health and seek services that will be positively impactful for your growth, well-being, relationships, and overall, your life!
Mercedes Braxton, LPC, NCC
Licensed Professional Counselor in Georgia and National Certified Counselor
Owner and Therapist at: Peace of Mind Counseling and Therapeutic Services
Facebook: Peace of Mind Counseling and Therapeutic Services
Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/profile/820634