How to Get Help

get-help Reaching out for help sooner rather than later is the best thing you can do. Mental health problems need to be addressed at stage one – you should never wait until you feel “sick enough” before seeking help. The sooner treatment is started, the shorter it will last and the easier it will be to recover fully. If you feel you, a loved one, or coworker is slipping, seeking help right away is wise.

If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, follow this guide.

Step One: Contact your Primary Care Physician/Family Doctor

Many physical health ailments have mental health symptoms. For example, a thyroid imbalance can look like depression. Schedule a full health checkup at your doctor’s office to screen for any potential health issues, including bloodwork. Be sure to ask your doctor for a mental health screening as well, which is a preliminary screening that your doctor can perform to get an idea of where you are mentally and emotionally.

Your doctor will make an assessment, and if necessary, make a referral to a specialist such as a counselor or psychiatrist. Your doctor should be able to prescribe a small amount (usually a one month supply) of medication to assist with symptoms until your referral appointment. Psychiatrists and therapists are in high demand, so it may be 4 to 6 weeks until your initial psychiatric appointment and therapy session, so make your psychiatric and therapy appointments right away. The medication will be extremely beneficial to help get you through this waiting period. Keep seeing your family doctor in the interim.

If you need to talk to someone, most cities have hotlines or crisis lines that can be utilized. Nationally, you can call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, or text the word “Listen” to 741-741 to reach Crisis Text Line.


Step Two: Attend Therapy

The weeks between a doctor’s visit and the therapist appointment can be grueling. On one hand, the medication may be helping and you may feel like you don’t need the therapist anymore. On the other hand, the medication may not be helping enough, or at all, and it may be hard to wait. Make sure to utilize your support system which may include a few friends and/or a support group.

The first therapy session is called the intake session. This is when the therapist will ask a series of background questions to fully understand who you are, where you’re coming from, and what’s happening. You may not even get to talk too much about the reasons behind needing therapy at the first session.


Step Three: Keep Going

Therapy is a two-way street. Be open and honest with your therapist to make the most of your treatment and recovery. If your therapist makes suggestions that you don’t like, be honest and request something else. Also, if you are having difficulty focusing or remembering, you may want to ask a family member or friend to attend the therapy with you. Of course, the therapist will have to approve this.

For Immediate Help

If you are fearful that someone is an immediate risk to themselves or someone else, call emergency services right away by dialing 9-1-1.

Contact your local human services hotline by dialing 2-1-1. Resources based on phone number area code.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be contacted 24/7 by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Click here to chat online.

Prefer texting? Crisis Text Line is open 24/7. Just text “Listen” to 741-741 to begin.

SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline – 1‑877‑SAMHSA7 (1‑877‑726‑4727) Get general information on mental health and locate treatment services in your area. Speak to a live person, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST

Some therapists just don’t click with their clients. Give your therapist at least three sessions to see if you click – if not, it is perfectly OK to request a new therapist. Continuity of care is important, so keep seeing your current therapist until you are able to see a new therapist.


Step Four: Be Proactive

Learn as much as you can about potential illnesses, diagnoses, and treatments. If there is something specific that you would like to try (such as art, light, or hypnotherapy), bring it up with your therapist to be an active participant in your health. As mentioned above, if you are unable to comprehensively help yourself, have a loved one or friend assist you. Remember, to ask for appropriate help is wise. You have a disease that is treatable, so when a person is sick many times he or she needs another’s assistance.


Step Five: Develop a Safety Plan

Safety Plans were originally developed for individuals who have had thoughts of hurting themselves or someone else. However, safety plans are important for everyone to have. In the same way that we prepare for emergencies well before an emergency happens, everyone should have a safety plan in place well before it is needed. Click here to learn how to create a safety plan.