June 23, 2024
Mindpath Health releases Finding Your Path to Mental Wellness

SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 15, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Caring for your mental health is a journey and there isn’t just one right path. There are many avenues to mental well-being that can complement your individual situation. May is Mental Health Awareness Month—a great time to think about your path to overall wellness.

Starting your path: When is it time to seek professional help?

The first few steps towards your mental health journey can be the hardest. According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness, only 45% of adults with mental illness receive treatment. This suggests the question – when is it a good idea to start talking to a professional, like a psychiatrist or therapist? Here are some signs to consider:

  1. Your mental health symptoms are interrupting your day-to-day life. Maybe you have always felt somewhat anxious, but now you can’t make plans with friends or leave the house because of how anxious you feel. Or perhaps all your hobbies feel pointless now, or you can’t seem to get out of bed for work anymore.
  2. Your loved ones notice that you’re not quite yourself. It is not always obvious when it is time to seek further help. Consider talking with trusted loved ones for their perspective on whether they notice changes in you, as this can help with your decision. Uncertainty about getting help suggests that part of you feels something is not quite right, and that may be all you need to take the next step.
  3. You have thoughts of self-harm. If you realize you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, this is a significant sign that you need professional support. Suicidality can be a common symptom of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or other forms of mental illness. Know that support is available, from psychiatry and therapy to crisis helplines like 988.
  4. You feel like you need help. Your desire to seek help is the only reason you need to do so. Only you know what you are truly going through, and a mental health professional can help you through your wellness journey and help you feel like yourself again. Your wish to start this journey is the only reason you need to begin.

These are not the only reasons you can start on your mental health path; it is a very personal decision. If you find a reason not listed here, know it is valid, and your path to overall well-being is valid.

Navigating the path: What type of professional help do you need?

When you decide to seek help for your mental health, it can be confusing to know where to begin. There’s no universal roadmap. Though every path is different, here are some signs that can make navigating easier.

  1. Psychiatry and medication. Medication can be an effective tool to treat many mental health conditions. Psychiatric medications influence your brain chemistry to help regulate emotions and thought patterns. For example, an SSRI is a type of medication that helps increase serotonin levels in your brain and can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Starting medication can be scary, and some patients worry that medication will change who they are. Studies show that taking antidepressants is not associated with personality changes. A psychiatric clinician is someone with specialized training who can understand your complex medical history and can prescribe medications as needed. These can include psychiatrists (MDs or DOs), nurse practitioners (APRNs, FNPs, and PMHNPs), and physician assistants (PAs). Since each person is different, a mental health professional will work with you individually to develop a medication regimen that fits your situation. Different types of psychiatric medications are available, and you can work with your clinician to choose the best fit for your unique situation.
  2. Therapy. Various therapy modalities can be helpful in your mental health journey. A therapist is a general term that refers to different clinicians who focus on providing therapy. These can include psychologists, social workers, and counselors. Studies show that combining therapy and medication can lead to the best outcomes for mental well-being. Therapy can look like many different things: talking one-on-one with a therapist, bringing in your partner to a session, or even group therapy with others with similar challenges. Some types of therapy focus on the talking part, while others can incorporate other experiences, such as your physical awareness of your body. Finding the right therapy approach for you can be a process, and you can work alongside your clinician to find the right path for you.
  3. A mental illness diagnosis. If you seek help from a therapist or psychiatrist, you may receive a mental health diagnosis. Typically, a diagnosis is required to have therapy or psychiatry services covered by insurance. Talk to your mental health professional to better understand your options. It is important to remember that a diagnosis does not define who you are. Knowing your diagnosis can help guide treatment and tailor the management of your condition accordingly.

Companions on the path: How do you build your support system?

Professional help is an important part of the path to mental well-being, and so is having a strong support system around you. It can sometimes feel intimidating to ask for help or talk with others about this process, especially sharing information about a diagnosis or medication. Even talking about seeing a therapist or psychiatric clinician can feel overwhelming. Here are some tips that can make this part of the path smoother: 

  1. Share with people you trust. There are no rules about who you should or should not talk to about your mental health journey. Give yourself permission to share with only the people you trust to support you.
  2. Stay factual, but don’t think you have to be an expert. It is helpful to stick to the facts you know, such as how you feel, your medications, or what you are learning in therapy. People may have questions. Do not pressure yourself to know all the answers. Remember, this is a path you are walking, and taking it one step at a time is okay.
  3. Be specific about the support you need. Remember that there is no wrong answer. Your request for support can be as simple as “Just listen to my journey” or something more involved, like coming with you to pick up prescriptions or helping you schedule appointments.

Continuing your path: What does mental well-being look like long-term?

Caring for your mental well-being is a lifelong process. It can be helpful to think of it as a path that carries you through different cycles of your life rather than a road with just one destination. Here are a few ways to maintain mental well-being long-term:

  1. Stay up to date with medications and therapy sessions. Many psychiatric medications work best if they are taken consistently over a long time. Remember to get refills when you need them and that you can talk with your psychiatric clinician anytime you think you need to change your medication. This can include new side effects or the need for a dosage change up or down, depending on your situation. It is also important to continue routine appointments with your therapist and work on the skills learned regularly.
  2. Build a self-care routine that works for you. The key to a good self-care routine is consistently focusing on things you can do. For example, while hiking multiple times a week may be good for your mental health, it is important to ask yourself if you have the time to devote to this. Set realistic goals for yourself that you can commit to. You can always start small and add to it as you can. Setting consistent habits includes prioritizing good sleep, eating well, participating in activities that give you a sense of purpose and meaning, such as volunteering, and making time for friends and family.
  3. Don’t be afraid to branch off your path. You will change as you walk your mental health path, and that is completely normal. Mental health is a constant work in progress, and modifying your plans and self-care to fit your dynamic situation is expected.

Visit mindpath.com to learn more about your mental health treatment options and start your path to mental wellness.

This article was written by Jasmine Kaur, MD, a psychiatrist with Mindpath Health in San Jose, CA.

Mindpath Health is an independent provider of high-quality outpatient behavioral health services, offering in-person and online visits. We coordinate care with primary care physicians and referring health care professionals to ensure a focus on total health. Visit mindpath.com to partner with us.

We have locations in Arizona, California, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas. We offer TMS in California, North Carolina, and Florida. Learn how TMS can help here. We offer Mindpath On Demand in North Carolina, offering urgent psychiatry services. Schedule an appointment here.

SOURCE Mindpath Health

Mindpath Health releases Finding Your Path to Mental Wellness

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