Frequently Asked Questions about Mental Health
How do I determine if I might have a mental health condition?
Only professionals licensed in the fields of psychology, counseling, social work, psychiatry, and medicine can diagnose a mental health condition. However, if you are trying to determine if you should seek help from one of these professionals, the following are some tips:
- Discuss your mental health with trusted family members or friends, and ask if they have seen any worrisome signs or significant changes in your behavior.
- Though online questionnaires are not diagnostic nor definitive, screening tools from reputable cites can give you an indication if seeking help is worthwhile.
- Keep a thought and mood journal for two weeks. Record your sleeping and eating habits as well. This will give you get a better perspective on your mental health.
What kind of services are there and who should I see?
There are a variety of services for mental health conditions. The lists of professionals and their specialties are listed here.
Are there support groups in my area, and how do I find them?
Support groups are non-professional organizations that offer community wide spaces for people to come together for peer support. There are many different support groups available for a range for conditions like alcoholism, depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, drug addiction, ADHD, and many more. A few resources that offer direction to specific support topics are:
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
- Mental Health America
- HealthFinder.gov (includes physical health conditions as well)
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Will my insurance cover mental health services?
Though laws have been enacted that mandate mental health parity in insurance coverage, there are still differences between insurance companies on rates, coverage, limits, and premiums, as well as differences between plans within those same companies. In some instances, there are limitations to the parity law, for example, a small business that provides employee health benefits. The best way to find out coverage, as well as professionals in your network, is to call the customer service number of your insurance company, or look up your policy benefits online.
Are there mental health services specifically for LGBQT individuals?
Professional organizations have been recognizing that historically training has been insufficient to meet the needs of this community. Because of this, many professionals are now trained and being trained to work with individuals from the LGBQT community. There are many resources that can direct you to an affirming mental health specialist in your area. The following are sources that can further direct you:
- Pride - A Get Started Guide to LGBT Mental Health Resources
- National Alliance on Mental Illness - LGBTQ
- CDC - LGBT Youth Resources
Are mental health professionals trained to work with diverse cultures, races, and ethnicities?
Over the last few decades the mental health profession has paid increasing attention to training practitioners in multiculturalism and appropriate methods for working with diverse cultures, races, and ethnicities. If you are from a culture, ethnicity, or race that differs from the practitioner, the practitioner may still be capable of meeting your needs (and ideally should be trained to, though this may not always be the case). There may, however, be barriers that need to be discussed with your mental health professional to bridge any differences in understanding each other. If you feel that a professional is incapable of meeting your needs based on differences in culture, race, or ethnicity, consider asking for a referral, or contacting your insurance company for other providers in your area.
I’d rather not talk to a medical doctor about my mental health. What other options are there?
Though medical doctors are trained to diagnose and treat many mental health conditions, some people feel that their mental health needs are not medical in nature and want to start somewhere else. One option is to speak with your insurance company about available psychotherapists or counselors covered in your area. Another option is to ask your doctor for a mental health referral, without disclosing why you are seeking it. A third option is using online mental health resources to find care in your area.
It is important to know that some people recover from mental health conditions without the use of medical treatment. However, it is also possible that some disorders, or the severity of a disorder, may require medical intervention. Psychotherapy combined with medical intervention is also an effective approach. Decisions about seeking medical treatment or not can be undertaken with a psychotherapist as well who will formulate the best treatment approach based on your specific needs.
What medication options are there?
There are a variety of medications for treating mental health conditions. This article breaks down the classes of drugs and the disorders they are prescribed for.