Welcome to day 31, the last day in the #Write31Days challenge on mental health. The month has gone by with me discussing lots of mental health issues. I have shared information and personal experience and hope you’ve been able to get something out of it. You might recognize some experiences or features of mental health issues I have discussed. Today, I will share what you can do if you suspect you may have a mental health problem.
First, like many people, I consulted Dr. Google when I realized I might have a mental health problem. You have already gotten some information on mental illness if you’ve read any of my posts in this series. You being a blog reader means you are familiar with the Internet. If you don’t know where to find reliable information on mental health, Psych Central is a good place to start. This site also has a forum and chat room for support. Obviously, no-one can there is equipped to diagnose or treat you.
If you decide you might need to see a mental health professional, it is good to know where to start. In some countries, you can consult a psychologist or therapist without a referral. In others, like the Netherlands, you can go see a counseling psychologist for short-term treatment withut a referral, but if you have more serious mental health problems, you need your GP’s referral to go see a mental health professional.
If you see a mental health professional for the first time, it is advisable to take your questions and issues with you on a piece of paper. You may want to bring a friend or family member to the introductory session, but that’s up to you. Most mental health professionals will know that patients today consult Dr. Google and will help you find reliable information about your concern. Those who are overly arrogant and pretend they know infinitely more than you do, may not be suitable. On the other hand, I’ve heard that some professionals tell patients to do their own research and don’t offer directions. I don’t see that as okay either.
Don’t come into a mental health professional’s office announcing you are sure you have a condition you’ve read about on my blog, on Psych Central or elsewhere. Making a diagnosis takes more than the patient’s report of their symptoms. Competent mental health professionals will not take your reported symptoms at face value. It may seem as though a mental health professional does not believe you when they ask to speak to a family member or do some tests on you. This is not the case, but family members can provide information you may not see as the affected person yourself, and tests ask questions you may not have thought of. They also help the clinician get a more objective idea of what to diagnose you with, if anything.
If you do not feel comfortable with a mental health professional at first, it may be because you feel uncomfortable talking about your mental health. However, if you don’t click with the provider, it’s totally okay to say so and ask for a referral to someone else. Every competent mental health professional should be okay with this.