Where to Turn for Mental Health
It's normal to feel stressed or anxious now and then. But it's time to call for help
if emotional issues persist for a significant period of time and interfere with your
life, your job, or your personal relationships.
With all the mental health resources and effective treatments available these days,
you don't need to suffer and wonder what's wrong. Education and awareness have done
much to erase the stigma once attached to mental illness. Still, many people don't
seek help for mental health needs.
Mental conditions are real, and can be life-threatening, but they're also common and
very treatable. How do you know you need help? As with many physical conditions, change
is the key. If you have a marked and persistent change in personality, mood, or eating
or sleeping habits, that's a sign something may be going on.
Symptoms to look for
These are other warning signs:
Feeling unable to cope with your day-to-day problems, work assignments, or usual household
Being overwhelmed by a deep sense of sadness, hopelessness, or helplessness
Having extreme mood swings, from high or hyper to down in the dumps
Withdrawn from people and regular activities
Believing things that are not true or hearing voices that are not there
Having thoughts or memories that you can't get out of your head
Abusing alcohol or drugs
Getting very angry or acting violently
Having thoughts about suicide or hurting someone else
Having a plan of how you would commit suicide
If you experience any of these symptoms, it's better to get treatment sooner than
later. These are warning signs that you definitely need help.
Make the call
Get help right away any time you believe you might hurt yourself or someone else.
Call 800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433) or your local crisis center. Or, look in the government
pages of your local phone book for the numbers of emergency mental health treatment
facilities near you. Finally, if you are in an immediate state of crisis, it is best
to go to a hospital emergency room for temporary help. The emergency department doctors
will also be able to tell you where and how to receive additional assistance.
Your health care provider. Your health care provider knows you and probably will notice
any changes in your mood or personality. Your health care provider can also rule out
possible physical reasons for your symptoms.
Employee assistance programs (EAP). If your company has an EAP, ask for a referral
to an appropriate provider or treatment program in your community.
Community mental health centers. These organizations provide counseling and other
services on a sliding-fee scale, based on your income.
Crisis centers. On-site mental health professionals provide immediate evaluation and
Support and self-help groups. Alcoholics Anonymous and the National Alliance on Mental
Illness are examples of peer and family support groups that meet both online and in
Word-of-mouth referrals. These can come from friends or family.
Psychiatrist or medical doctor. These professionals can provide counseling and prescribe
Psychologists. These professionals have doctorate degrees and specialize in psychotherapy
and human behavior.