Empowering Yourself: The Path to Informed Mental Health Care

Empowering Yourself: The Path to Informed Mental Health Care

Like so many of us, I often find myself trying to assist friends in navigating the complex mental health web. For someone who has been in this field for decades, it seems harder and more confusing to figure out now more than ever. The combination of more people seeking mental health therapy, fewer providers accepting insurance, and a plethora of options makes it overwhelming. The bottom line is, we must all become informed consumers about mental health, which is easier said than done. There is a lot to consider. 

So, where do you start?

Getting Educated
The first step is to get educated about mental health. Start by honestly assessing why you are seeking support. Specifically, what symptoms are you experiencing? For example, if you’re not sleeping and as a result are feeling more anxious and having a hard time focusing, was the onset of these symptoms a result of your insomnia? Take notes about what and how you’re feeling so you can refer to them throughout your journey.

When gathering external information, be mindful of evaluating the credibility of your sources. Ensure that the information you rely on is evidence-based, peer-reviewed, and unbiased. At Psych Hub, this element of credibility is of the utmost importance to us. We prioritize providing trustworthy resources and partnering with academic and clinical experts to create our content. Always beware of sources that promise quick fixes or endorse treatments without scientific backing.

Understanding Your Options
Once you have a clear understanding of your current situation and symptoms, it's time to evaluate your options for support. If you're seeking treatment, it's important to look for evidence-based approaches that align with relieving the symptoms you are experiencing.

Evidence-based mental health care involves providing treatments and interventions that are supported by scientific evidence of their effectiveness. This means integrating research-backed evidence, trained clinicians, and interventions that align with your preferences, values, and goals. By prioritizing evidence-based care, you can ensure that you receive high-quality treatment tailored to your specific needs. For example, if you're dealing with insomnia, CBT-I (cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia) is the most effective evidence-based approach to alleviate your symptoms.

For more information on recommended treatment approaches for specific symptoms or conditions, check out our YouTube playlist on evidence-based treatments.

Not everyone turns to professional care for their mental health journey. If you're uncertain about therapy, there are other treatment options to consider. Alongside psychotherapy, you can explore medications, lifestyle changes, and alternative treatments like digital mental health apps. Each option has its advantages, limitations, and suitability for different conditions.

When reviewing your choices, don't forget to evaluate insurance coverage and costs. It's important to understand what mental health services your insurance plan includes. If you're uninsured, look into sliding scale fees, community health centers, or other affordable alternatives.

Finding the Right Therapist
When it comes to finding a therapist, it's crucial to prioritize licensed and credentialed professionals. Take the time to evaluate their qualifications, experience, and areas of specialization. It's also important to understand the different types of providers available, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists, and counselors. Each brings a unique perspective that could greatly benefit your situation.

Remember, don't hesitate to ask questions. When meeting with potential providers, inquire about their approach, treatment philosophy, experience in dealing with your specific concerns, and what you can expect from the treatment process. Seeking a second opinion is perfectly acceptable if you're uncertain about a diagnosis or treatment plan. Your mental health care should make you feel confident and comfortable every step of the way.

If you’re considering mental health treatment, but have questions about what therapy might be like, check out this video to learn more about the process of therapy.

Staying Engaged
Be an active participant in your therapy for better results. Understand that significant changes won't happen overnight with just one weekly session. Dedicate yourself to the process, set goals, give feedback, and communicate openly with your provider.

To track your progress, keep a record of your symptoms and any changes you observe. This will help evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment and make necessary adjustments.

Know your rights as a patient or client, including confidentiality, informed consent, and the right to receive competent and ethical care. The mental health parity law ensures that health insurance plans must cover mental health and substance use disorder services on par with medical/surgical services.

Your mental health deserves your attention and commitment, just like your physical health. It's not a one-and-done situation; it's an integral part of who you are. The field of mental health is constantly evolving, so staying informed about new research, treatments, and best practices is crucial.

Being an informed consumer in mental health means making educated choices about your care and staying engaged throughout the treatment process. Remember, you have the right to receive quality care that is respectful, culturally sensitive, and aligned with your personal needs and preferences.