“I Think I Need Help”: What to Do When You Need Mental Health Treatment
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It’s not always easy to recognize when you’re struggling with your mental health. It can be even harder to admit when you need outside help. Self-awareness is a skill that’s important to develop; by being aware of when you’re struggling with your mental well-being, you can start to work toward becoming the best version of yourself.

If you’ve thought, “I think I need help,” you’ve already taken an important first step in your mental health journey. The right mental health treatment will provide you with the help you need to address your mental health distress or disorder, alleviate the issues, and help you manage them in the future for an improved overall quality of life.

We’ll talk about what your next steps should be when you’re looking for mental health help. We’ll also discuss the signs that it’s time to explore professional mental health treatment options.

How to get the mental health treatment you need 

It’s important that you recognize the role you play in your own mental, emotional and behavioral well-being, and when it’s time to take back control when those start to decline. “I think I need help” isn’t a thought that should be brushed off. Once you acknowledge that you’re unable to manage your mental health on your own, it’s time to take action to help both your present and future self.

If you’ve recognized that you need help for your mental health, your first step should be to book an appointment with your primary care provider. They’ll help you determine the possibility of a mental health disorder diagnosis. Talk to them about any negative or out-of-character emotions, thoughts, and behaviors that have become prevalent in your everyday life. You should also discuss how those patterns have affected your overall quality of life, such as decreased productivity at home, work or school or strained personal relationships. They will likely do a physical examination to rule out any other health concerns that could impact your mental health.

It’s possible to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder by your general physician, especially if it’s one of the most common types of disorders, such as depression or generalized anxiety disorder. But they may also refer you to a specialist, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, for further evaluation.

After discussing your mental health distress and medical history, a specialist will carry out a psychological evaluation to see how you align with the diagnostic criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition, for possible disorders. If you receive a diagnosis, they’ll work with you on a treatment plan that can help address and reduce your symptoms. It often includes a combination of psychotherapy and medication.

Everyone can struggle with their mental health, and treatment isn’t only beneficial for those with diagnosable mental health disorders. You can work with your providers to determine how you can improve your mental, emotional and behavioral well-being, such as ongoing therapy and self-care. Needing help for your mental health may mean that you need to develop skills for stress management, problem-solving and communication to manage difficult situations in the future.

Signs you should seek professional mental health treatment

As we mentioned earlier, self-awareness is the key to recognizing when you need help for your mental health. But what are you supposed to be “aware” of? There are many signs that it may be time to seek professional mental health treatment.

These signs may be recognizable to you, or they may be brought to your attention by other people in your life. The signs can vary depending on the type of mental health distress or disorder that you’re living with.

Here are some signs that you may need mental health treatment:

  • Persistent or worsening negative thoughts and emotions
  • Withdrawing or isolating away from other people
  • Difficulty navigating stressful or upsetting situations or life changes
  • Out-of-character behavior, such as participating in risky activities
  • Trouble concentrating, making decisions or solving problems
  • Feeling emotionally overwhelmed or burned out
  • Changes in appetite or sleeping patterns
  • Feeling unable to improve mental health on your own
  • Self-harm or suicidal ideation

Call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988 if you’re at risk to yourself or others.

Lightfully can provide you with the mental health help you need

Your health care providers will collaborate with you to make sure you get the help you need. Mental health treatment options may include weekly psychotherapy sessions, prescription medication or lifestyle adjustments. 

It’s also possible that you’ll need a bit more support. Your providers may refer you to one of our four levels of care: Residential Treatment (RTC), Virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (vIOP), Partial Hospitalization Program or Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). These consist of evidence-based, clearly defined, data-driven and whole-person-centered care provided by deeply compassionate experts.

Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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