Getting started with mental health care can be overwhelming and stressful, especially if you begin looking for help while in the middle of a struggle or a crisis. Getting the courage to ask for help in the first place is an accomplishment in itself, but figuring out what kind of support you need from what type of provider and how you’ll be able to pay and work it into your schedule is, well, a lot. Here are 7 important tips and insights you can take with you as you navigate the very beginning of your mental healthcare process.
1. When to get started with mental health care
The very first tip we have for you is about determining when to get help. Dr. Bobbi Porche, a psychiatrist at our Houston clinic, explains that people new to mental healthcare can sometimes struggle with knowing when to seek support and treatment. She states, “The minute you stop feeling like yourself, that’s the time to seek mental healthcare.”
You don’t have to hit rock bottom to ask for help. You can start your mental health care journey even if you’re feeling fine! Or, if you’re not feeling fine and notice that you are losing interest in things that used to bring you joy, you often have a negative mindset, have difficulty communicating or handling relationships or responsibilities, or are experiencing symptoms of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, OCD, ADHD, PTSD, bipolar disorder, or any other condition, then it is completely acceptable to ask for support.
2. Determine what kind of provider(s) you need
Once you take the life-changing step in realizing you want support for your mental health, it is time to consider what kind of support you are looking for. Here are our recommendations for which mental health provider might fit your needs best:
- If you’re interested in psychotherapy, where you can talk to a provider about navigating your past, present, and future life experiences while building coping skills, we recommend seeing a therapist.
- If you’re in need of a formal psychiatric exam, we recommend seeing a psychologist.
- If you’re interested in getting prescribed medication (and your medication needs are pretty basic), then we recommend seeing a PMHNP.
- If you have complex medication needs, such as if you’re taking multiple medications, or if you’re interested in being prescribed alternative treatments, such as TMS or esketamine, then we recommend seeing a psychiatrist.
Please note that it is very common to have both a therapist and a psychiatrist or PMHNP to help you handle and treat your mental health.
If you’re not sure what kind of support or mental health professional you need, that’s totally okay! We can help you figure that out. Call us at 844-867-8444 to set up a consultation.
3. Get help that works for you
Now, more than ever, there are options for mental healthcare that can work for you and your schedule. If you prefer and have the ability to do so, you can meet with your therapist or psychiatrist at a clinic. If you can’t or don’t want to make the commute, you can try teletherapy and telepsychiatry. Of course, if you do choose a virtual option, you will need a device that allows you to have a video call with your provider, a Wi-Fi connection, and a private space to have the call in. If that sounds like it may be hard to come by at home, you can try going to your local library and see if they have resources for you to use.
4. Payment for treatments
One challenge to receiving mental healthcare is payment. If you are paying the full cost out of pocket, then yes, mental healthcare is unfortunately out of reach for so many of us looking to receive care. Fortunately, there are a few ways where you do not have to pay the full cost out of pocket.
One major way to cover treatment costs is with health insurance. As the stigma of mental healthcare is changing, more insurance plans cover mental health treatment. At Mindful Health Solutions, we take many types of insurance and are happy to communicate with your insurance provider as needed to make sure you are covered. If you are uninsured, your county or community may offer programs that will help you pay for treatment. One way to find these programs is to reach out to a local mental health clinic near you. See if they know of any that can help, or see what they suggest for getting financial help for treatments.
5. Find a provider that you can relate to
In addition to finding a provider who can give you the support you’re looking for, it is crucial to work with a provider you can relate to. You want to feel safe and understood by your provider, especially if they are your therapist. You should not have to teach your therapist about your culture or background, and it is best if they come from a similar culture and background as you.
For example, if you are a Black Queer man who wants to talk about your experiences as a Black Queer man, then it would be ideal if your provider is also a Black Queer man. Finding an exact match with a provider isn’t always easy or possible. However, relatability is important to keep in mind as you are getting started with mental health care.
6. Form a relationship with your provider
Being able to relate to your provider is one important component to getting the best support possible, but so is forming a relationship with them. According to Ming Loong Teo, the Director of our Psychotherapy Department, “70% of you getting better is the quality of the relationship you have with your provider.” So, even if they are qualified and can relate to your background, your provider still may not be the best match for you if your personality structures or interpersonal styles don’t mesh.
Now, it is perfectly normal and expected for your provider to challenge you. However, if you’re having trouble connecting to or communicating with your provider, then it is acceptable to consider getting a referral to a different provider. Your provider has likely experienced that before with other patients and should ultimately want you to feel better. They will hopefully help you find someone whom you can relate better with.
7. Keep trying
When getting started with mental health care, we think it is important to manage your expectations. It is possible that you won’t find relief right away. Therapy takes time and effort to help establish coping strategies and skills to manage your mental health in a healthy way. If you get prescribed a medication, the first one or two you try may not work.
Because everyone is different and everyone’s brain is unique, the best treatment option for you might not be the same as the treatment option for someone else. Mental health care is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Keep in mind that there are options out there for you, and one will help you find relief. Like we said for Tip 6, it’s okay to switch providers if you don’t mesh with the first one you’re given. It is also okay to switch medications if they aren’t working. If medication turns out not to work at all for you, then there is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), esketamine, or even ECT if needed. There are plenty of options out there. Don’t lose hope. Keep trying to find the treatment plan that works best for you and your needs.
Remember that you can’t feel better or be your best self until you ask for help. When you’re ready to do that, we can help you with the rest. We would be honored to help you figure out what kind of support you need and match you with a provider who can create a customized treatment plan for you. Connect with us today and get started with mental health care. You deserve to feel better.