Increase in Mental Health Awareness
There have been a lot of changes in the field of mental and behavioral health over the last 50 years or so. The biggest change that comes to my mind is that people are no longer considered weak if they seek help with depression, anxiety or any other mental-health disorder. Some of us can probably remember when talking about mental health issues was done with a whisper, if at all. Thankfully there is a greater understanding and more acceptance that mental health issues, just like physical health issues, need to be brought up with our health care providers so that proper diagnosis and treatment can be started.
Where Do I Start?
My recommendation is to start with your primary care provider (PCP). PCPs are often the one who knows us the best. Perhaps we’ve seen them for a variety of other issues, and they have a pretty good understanding of who we are. Even if someone is just starting a relationship with a PCP, it’s a good idea to tell them everything that’s going on. Looking for a PCP? Find one that is the perfect match for you.
How Do I Talk About Mental Health With My Provider?
Your PCP will ask you some questions, but it’s a really good idea to prepare for the visit. A review of what your concerns are prior to the visit can be very helpful for you and your provider. Writing down symptoms and concerns prior to seeing your provider can help keep you focused on what you need to talk about. For example, maybe the list you take into your provider includes:
- Feelings of hopelessness.
- Feeling like there’s nothing you can do to improve your life.
- Sleeping a lot but feeling tired all the time.
- Losing interest in things that you once really enjoyed doing.
- Weight loss due to just not being hungry.
While it’s true we all might feel this way some of the time, when someone is feeling this way more days than not, it’s time to talk to a healthcare provider. Your health care provider will probably ask a few more questions to get a fuller picture of what’s really going on for you. This will help make an accurate diagnosis, and maybe even talk with you about medication and talk therapy. If you need a referral to a mental health care provider, they’ll help you with that too.
Speaking Up About Mental Health Issues
Even though we’ve come a long way in the past 50 years or so de-stigmatizing mental health issues, there might still be some old beliefs hanging around in our families, our friends, our communities, and maybe even in ourselves. Those of us who work in the field of mental health know that, for many, it takes a tremendous amount of courage to speak up, ask for help, and then work towards recovery.
It’s not always easy to know when or even how to ask for help if there are concerns about mental health issues. My recommendation is to reach out to your health care provider, make that appointment and tell them what’s going on, what your concerns are, and get all the help you need. You can also call the CHI Health Behavioral Information and Referral Line at (402) 717-HOPE and speak to one of the specialists. They can answer many of your questions and even help you make an appointment.
Original post date: March, 2015. Revised: May, 2019.