Directions and tips on how to empower yourself to get the help you need.
If you are a minor, talk to an adult. This person doesn’t have to be your parent, or even the parent of a close friend (though it can be!), it could be a teacher, a pastor, a guidance counselor, or someone in the community you trust. You have A LOT of options. Talking with an adult is a good first step. Navigating the mental healthcare system isn’t easy, it took me years to learn how, and it will take time for you to learn too, that’s why getting help from an adult is so important. If you are worried that the therapist or psychiatrist you find will divulge all of your private information take into consideration that these doctors cannot legally tell your parents anything you tell them unless they deem a danger to yourself or others, at which point your parents should absolutely be involved with the decision making surrounding your treatment.
If you aren’t a minor (or you are but afraid to talk with an adult), or…if you are still considering getting professional help, reach out. Do some research about your community. Chances are there are a lot of choices. Some therapists/case workers/psychiatrists will have private practices and others will work in doctors offices. You need to make some phone calls to find out who takes your insurance, or which ones have assistance programs for those of us who fall into the healthcare gap. If you can’t find the doctor you are looking for one, talk with you primary care physician, ask if they can help you, because depending your insurance you may need a referral to be made to get the insurance company to pay their end of it additionally your doctor probably has a ton of resources! Consider a case worker, these people are professionals at helping people in your exact situation! And chances are your local hospital or doctors office has a few working for them.
Start all of this as soon as you are able because a lot of the time these type of professionals have waiting lists, with psychiatrists especially. Also, consider a psychiatric nurse practitioner for medication management if you can’t get in to see a psychiatrist or you don’t have one in the area. It is important to remember that if you are in a rural area, like myself, mental health resources will be scarce and you may have to travel. Also, you should be made aware that many primary care physicians can diagnosis more common illnesses like depression and anxiety or PTSD, and often feel comfortable prescribing things like anti-depressants, so don’t leave out your PCP when beginning your treatment. After doing all of this you should be able to get the ball rolling to get the help you need to get better.
If mental health issues and mental illness are new to you and you find yourself in your first (and hopefully last) crisis call the local crisis support team, or 9-1-1.