Mental Health Help: Is it the Right Option for Me?
Author: Karissa Kelley
TAPS understands that choosing to get mental health help is rarely a simple or an easy decision. The idea of therapy can feel scary and foreign. Stigmatizing messages get in the way. Grief can make you feel like you are literally losing your mind. It is easy to start thinking that you are the problem and that no one can help you.
You are BRAVE for seeking out the help you need and deserve.
TAPS is here to help you find the right fit.
First Ask: Could I benefit from mental health help?
Choosing to begin mental health services is a uniquely personal decision. There is no shame in wondering if it’s the right choice for you. Here are some indicators that it might be time to get professional support:
- It is getting harder and harder for you to get through the day and/or you don’t sleep well.
- You are constantly overflowing with and have no control over negative, unwanted, or unpleasant emotions.
- Your mind keeps getting “stuck” over and over in the same memory or thought.
- The way you talk to yourself or think about yourself is more negative than how you would ever speak to another person.
- You feel isolated, alone, and like no one will ever understand you.
- It is too hard or too triggering for you to participate in a support group.
Second Ask: How do I choose a mental health practitioner?
Mental Health help falls into two overarching categories - Medication Management and Therapy.
Medication is prescribed by a psychiatric doctor (MD), physician’s assistant (PA), or nurse practitioner (NP).
Start by asking your primary care physician if you might benefit from psychiatric medication management. Then schedule an evaluation with a psychiatric provider.
Medication can be prescribed for the long term or short term. It can help with things like mood, anxiety, panic, sleep, nightmares and overall functioning.
Many medications are not “addictive.” Usually after your evaluation and receipt of the prescription, you will see the practitioner every 1-2 months. Some psychiatric providers require you to also be in therapy while taking medication.
Therapy is provided by a master’s or doctoral-level clinician. Their license and title will vary depending on the state you live in, but they are generally called a psychologist, therapist, social worker, or marriage and family therapist.
Therapy is usually one time per week, and can last anywhere from a few weeks to several years depending on your circumstances and needs.
Clinicians who work exclusively with grief are rare, but it is usually possible to find a therapist with experience treating complicated grief and trauma.
Therapists can specialize in a certain type of treatment - like trauma therapy or substance use. They can also specialize in support for specific populations like young children and play therapy, couples, or families.
No one should have to walk through grief alone. Finding the appropriate mental health help can you to continue moving forward even though it feels impossible.
You can also refer to Part 2 of this series, “Mental Health Help: Finding the Right Therapist”
Karissa Kelley, LPC, CT, is the surviving sibling of Air Force Airman First Class Caleb Justin Kelley, and serves as the Family Resource Liaison, TAPS Survivor Services.