Mental HealthWith one out of ten Americans suffering from some form of mental health issue, chances are that you know someone with  a condition. Fortunately, we know more today about bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, PTSD, OCD, eating disorders, and other conditions.

But many people fail to seek help because of the negative stigma associated with mental health issues. They may be scared to be labeled as “crazy.” But mental health is no longer a taboo topic with all the support available today and the buzz in recent years. More celebrities and everyday folks are being vocal about their struggles.

Mental Health Help: Where Do I Start?

If you’re ready to seek help, now’s the perfect time. For Mental Health Awareness Month, Hospitality Health ER is providing tips to prepare you on your mental health journey:

#1. Know What to Expect From Different Types of Doctors:

If you’re not quite sure what you’re dealing with, talk to your primary care physician. They can help you sort through what may be going on and guide you to the right kind of help. Because primary care physicians aren’t specialized in mental health, they may refer you to a psychiatrist for further assessment.

If you’re just needing someone to talk to, ask for a psychologist referral first. Keep in mind the difference between psychiatrists and psychologists. A psychologist focuses on interactive discussions and various forms of psychotherapy but cannot prescribe medications. The role of a psychiatrist is to prescribe and manage a patient’s mental health medications, but they typically do not offer counseling.

If you have a severe psychiatric condition, you’ll want to seek help from a psychiatrist. But if you have a mild case of anxiety or depression, psychotherapy and behavioral modification may work without the use of medication.. You can start by talking to a psychologist first. For less severe mental health cases, primary care physicians can actually prescribe and manage some medications.

#2. Research Different Medications Before Choosing One.

Before you agree to any medications, do your research. Look at reviews and see what other patients are saying about their experience with the drug. There are so many resources online at your fingertips. If you are currently taking other medications, research any incompatible drug interactions. You should also educate yourself on potential side effects that may expose you to risk. Some medications cannot be taken with alcohol, while others have the potential to worsen symptoms.

As with any medication, it is important to be aware of any potential side effects associated with your medication. Let your doctor about any symptoms you’re experiencing. Sometimes it takes a while to find medication that works for you. But by working closely with your doctor, you’ll hopefully find the one that makes you feel the best with the least side effects.

#3. Don’t just rely on medication. Get additional support.

Medication can certainly help with reducing symptoms, but psychotherapy can help fill in the gaps. According to Psychology Today, psychotherapy is known to be an effective treatment for a wide range of psychological disorders. One study suggested that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) was as effective in preventing relapse in chronic depression as antidepressants. The truth is that behavioral-based therapies can’t hurt. In fact, many who suffer from mental health issues have had positive outcomes with therapy. So don’t just rely on medicationconsistent counseling can do wonders.

Parents, want to learn how to raise a happy, well-adjusted teenager? Start with Hospitality Health ER’s teenage blog series here.