As someone who frequents mental health forums with the intent of helping people out who are in crisis, you’d be amazed at how many of the same questions we get, questions which can only be answered a certain number of ways. I’m not complaining, I understand completely, people are in crisis, they want help for their issue, it’s only natural.
However, it takes time for people to reply, and that’s precious time where a person is suffering behind a computer screen, waiting to hear what they should do about their issue. That’s a problem. To try to come up with a solution for this problem, I created a list of frequently asked questions, which I will share with you now.
- Should I Get Help?
Ironically, the only person who can really answer this is the person you’d get help FROM. The basic answer is, if it’s bothering you, then yes, you should seek help. If you feel you are a threat to yourself or others, please seek help immediately by either dialing your country’s emergency number or going to the ER! There’s a lot of stigma surrounding seeking help for mental issues, so it’s only natural to ask this question to see if you actually need help before subjecting yourself to that stigma. However, plenty of “normal” people see psychologists, therapists, and psychiatrists, so please don’t let the stigma surrounding it hold you back from getting better.
2. Someone I Know Has A Mental Illness And Won’t Get Help…
This is a tough situation, and it really depends on where you live. If a person is a threat to themselves or others, they can be hospitalized against their will. In many places, a person can also be hospitalized if it is clear they cannot care for themselves. Please research the laws in your state, province, or country to see what can be done to get them help. In the meantime, all you can do is be supportive, and be there for them when/if they finally decide to get help.
3. Can You Diagnose Me?
It is impossible for anyone, let alone an untrained person, to diagnose a person without an intense interview completed by a trained professional. So, in short, only a trained professional (usually a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist) can diagnose you. If you feel you have something that needs diagnosing, please see one of the professionals listed above to get help. Diagnosing anyone over the internet with nothing more than a couple paragraphs of text to go by is unethical and wrong.
4. I Feel Like I Can’t Go On…
I’m immensely sorry that you’re suffering so, I’ve been there, and I can only sympathize with how horrible being at the bottom of that well is. If you haven’t already, please reach out for help, or, if you have, please schedule an appointment with your mental health professional ASAP. If you feel you’re a threat to yourself or others, dial your country’s emergency number or go to the emergency room.
5. What Mental Health Professional Should I See?
This really depends. For most people I recommend seeing a psychologist or therapist first, because generally the wait times are lesser, and they will be able to gauge whether or not you need a psychiatrist, and refer you to a good one if necessary. Keep in mind that psychologists and therapists do talk therapy, including specialized therapies such as DBT, CBT, and others. Most all psychiatrists give out medications, and not much else.
6. I Don’t Want Medication, But…
It’s your right to refuse medication, however, I would evaluate why you don’t want medication before outright refusing. Mental illness has been proven in countless studies to be an issue linked to brain chemicals and tissues, it isn’t just “all in your head”, this is something physical going on in your brain. Medication helps correct what’s going wrong, reducing symptoms. There’ s a lot of stigma surrounding psychiatric medications, I myself struggled with that stigma when I was first put on medication, but the benefits you might reap from it are worth it, I promise you. Keep in mind you may also have to try a few different medications until you find one that’s right for you, so please don’t give up if the first try goes awry! Medication can be a lifesaver; it was for me.
7. I Want/Have To Quit My Medication
First off, whatever you do don’t quit cold turkey, it can wreak havoc on your body and your mental health. Always consult with a mental health professional before quitting any psychiatric medication. If you are quitting because you want to, please consider that there may be other medications out there for you, don’t give up just because the first couple don’t work for you!
8. I Can’t Afford To Get Help
This is a tricky one. If you’re in college, your university probably already has free counseling services available for you. If you’re not in college, please look into places that offer sliding scale payment (you pay based on your income) and community mental health centers. Research to see if there’s a solution near to you. If you just want to talk to someone, even if they aren’t a trained professional, check out 7 Cups of Tea, a free website (with options to upgrade) that offers compassionate listening and even a lesson plan to improve your mental health! If you can’t afford your medication, try calling around to different pharmacies to get their price for the medication. You’d be surprised the price change from pharmacy to pharmacy. The price of my meds went down by half when I switched pharmacies! Also ask your doctor if they have a coupon card for the medication. When Abilify was only available brand name, their coupon card made my $1,000 medication $15.
Note: If you frequent reddit on /r/mentalhealth you may recognize this list. That is because I posted a similar list there first. If you’d like to see the original, here it is