In the past, speaking about mental health has not been the easiest topic. Throughout the pandemic, large quantities of people have been impacted by changes in their routines, their habits, and in their relationships, setting the stage to normalize these conversations. There are many positive benefits to mental health counseling, for example, helping you learn how to change your thoughts and behavior, allowing you to reform your life. Counseling isn’t just for people who have specific obstacles they are working through. Seeking support when you are already in a good place in life supports you in creating new perspectives, learning new tools to understand and process emotions, and gives people a safe space to express their true thoughts and emotions with someone who is able to not color responses based on their own pain or limiting beliefs. Counseling can also help you set and achieve goals in life, such as finishing post-graduate schooling, bettering relationships or finding a fulfilling job.
If this is your first time seeking help, know that there are a lot of different experts that you can approach. Depending on your needs, here are 5 professionals you can talk to regarding your mental well-being:
Specialized Trauma and Addiction Counselors
These mental health professionals are trained to help people with trauma and addiction. Some may focus on supporting people with PTSD, behavioral disorders, and drug and alcohol addiction. They will assess your behavior, determine what needs to be changed, and advise you on triggers to avoid. A drug and alcohol treatment specialist can help patients suffering addiction through interventions and crisis responses. They may also suggest habits that you need to include in your routine. With nearly 8% of the total U.S. population needing treatment for a substance abuse disorder and 21% of Canadians experiencing some form of addiction in their lifetime, these specialists are in high demand.
People experiencing psychological distress should talk to psychologists for assessment and possible diagnosis. They assess, diagnose, and treat people through psychotherapy and treatment plans. Treatment can include anything from journaling to regular therapy sessions. Though stress, anxiety, and depression can come off as normal feelings sometimes, it is important to have them checked when they affect your mental health and daily life.
Clinical Social Workers
Clinical social workers focus on the assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illnesses and behavioral disturbances. Examples of behavioral disturbances can include impulsivity and hyperactivity. Common treatment methods executed by clinical social workers are individual, group, and family therapy. You should seek the help of a clinical social worker if you think your mental health is affected by socioeconomic, cultural, and familial factors. Clinical social workers are trained to help you deal with these, and they often work with other mental health professionals to better support you.
- Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners
Patients with a mental illness are cared for by psychiatric nurse practitioners. These nurses are qualified in the assessment, diagnosis, planning, and evaluation of patients. At times, they even provide the same services as medical doctors like carrying out mental health examinations and assessments and leading psychotherapy sessions. Seeking care from a psychiatric nurse practitioner is especially beneficial if you’re already diagnosed with a mental illness. They have advanced knowledge in mental health, and can provide you with the best care — such as specific treatments like psychotropic medication — for your mental well-being.
Certified Peer Specialists
A certified peer specialist is someone who is willing to identify themselves with a behavioral health disorder — such as mental illness — with past experiences. Their experiences allow them to understand what others who have the same disorder or illness are going through. Consequently, they receive specific training in order to be certified to support others during their recovery process. If you would like to receive support from someone who knows what you’re experiencing in terms of mental health, then a certified peer specialist is who you can trust.
Mental health is a very important part of your overall health and well-being. Thus, seeking guidance and treatment from mental health professionals is something that’s encouraged to be done on a regular basis, even before you encounter difficulties or symptoms. Like going to a dentist, doctor or masseuse regularly, these small actions make a huge difference over the long run.
Do you go to a mental health professional? Why or why not? Comment below!
Article contributed by Ruth Janes
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