Although there are lots of children, adolescents and adults who experience some type of mental health problem in their lives, they can oftentimes work through it with time and good support from others. However, if the symptoms linger and don’t improve or become more severe and it is impacting their ability to get through the day, getting professional help may be the next best course of action.
Warning signs for children and adolescents include slipping grades, difficulty getting along with other students or friends, getting into fights, having difficulty with authority figures, school absences, difficulty concentrating, isolating, fighting with family, difficulty controlling mood swings, thoughts of running away or wanting to die, substance abuse and much more. Children are more apt to show that they are struggling by acting out as they don’t necessarily have the ability to communicate what is wrong.
For adults, symptoms are similar but cater to those in the adult world. They can show their struggles through poor work performance, irregular attendance, problems with the boss, a bad attitude, moodiness or are easily offended on the job. Then there are those who have difficulty with increased/decreased sleeping and eating, racing thoughts or difficulty concentrating, motivational problems with uncompleted household tasks, increased relationship problems with family or friends, inability to leave the house or suffer with panic attacks, come up with blanks on positive thinking, feeling hopeless, helpless or worthless, getting in trouble with authorities or having anger problems, struggle with nightmares or flashbacks from previous trauma, and/or are abusing alcohol or other substances by trying to escape from emotional pain. There is a whole host of mental health issues that are not listed here but cause significant difficulty and impact the ability to function in our day-to-day routines. When there are problems getting through the day or a large part of our world is falling apart, it may be time to ask for professional help.
Oftentimes, those suffering from mental health problems visit their physician and discuss their concerns. Psychotropic medications may be considered if it appears that the patient would benefit from such. Oftentimes, physicians also refer patients to a mental health provider as medications may reduce symptoms but does not help the patient deal with the underlying problems that need resolve or teach coping skills. There are some insurance companies that require a physician referral for mental health services, but most don’t. Most insurances help pay for mental health treatment but it is a good idea to check with them about coverage. Individuals also seek mental health treatment on their own or self-refer, in addition to social workers, ministers, employers, family members or friends.
Usually, the initial stage of treatment is meeting with a mental health professional who can be found at nearly all mental health clinics. Usually, the mental health professional meets with the client and learns about the client’s symptoms as well as gains a well-rounded picture of the client’s situation and history. All information shared is confidential with very few exceptions of which the client will be made aware in privacy documents reviewed at intake.
Once the mental health professional has met with the client 1-2 times, they complete a Diagnostic Assessment, a summary of findings that includes treatment options most recommended for that individual. Mental health treatment encompasses a wide range of services based on need. For example, an individual may be recommended to receive psychotherapy in the office or outreach services in their home, if eligible. More intensive services are also offered if an individual is experiencing more serious symptoms, such as psychiatric consultation, case management, psychological testing, psychiatric hospitalization, crisis services, or other placements. The client is free to determine their level of involvement in the services recommended, unless they are at imminent risk of hurting themselves or others. A treatment plan is oftentimes devised in coordination with the client to reduce symptoms and improve their ability to function better in their life. Although it may be nerve-racking to disclose personal parts of yourself, it also helps to know that it is the beginning process of dealing with the problems that keep on interrupting your life. You don’t have to be an island. There is evidenced-based professional treatment that can help!
For more information please visit our mental health services page.
Claudia Liljegren, MSW, LICSW
Mental Health Professional
St. Williams Mental Health