According to the World Health Organization, health is defined as “A state of complete physical, mental, and emotional well-being.” It goes to suggest that mental health is as important as physical health. The World Health Organization specifies that good mental health is essential for thinking, maintaining good working relationships, and enjoying a fulfilling life. Taking care of our mental health is important to lead productive and happy lives at every stage of our lives.
Although poor mental health and mental illnesses are often confused with each other and used interchangeably, they do not mean the same thing. Patients with poor mental health may not be diagnosed with a mental illness. In contrast, patients with a mental illness may have normal periods between episodes of acute depression or psychosis, etc.
How frequent are mental illnesses?
According to the Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, almost half of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness in their lifetime. Nearly 1 in 5 adults and children will struggle with a mental disorder in a given year. It is a staggering number of people, which shows how important it is to take care of our mental health. About 4% of people in the US (1 in 25) will be diagnosed with a serious mental disorder.
Common mental health disorders:
Some common mental health disorders frequently seen include the following: ● Obsessive-compulsive disorder
● Anxiety, including generalized anxiety disorder
● Post-traumatic stress disorder
● Personality disorders
● Mood disorders
● Substance use disorders
● Impulsivity-control disorders
● Anorexia and other eating disorders
● Gender dysphoria
● Neurocognitive disorders
● Autism spectrum disorders
According to The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), patients with mental illnesses are more likely to develop substance use disorder. Moreover, many patients may have concurrent disorders like depression and anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety, and mania with severe depression.
Who can diagnose mental health disorders?
Remember that earlier diagnosis always leads to improved and favorable outcomes. Although your general practitioners may diagnose some mental health disorders, others need proper diagnosis by specified mental health professionals. Some of the people who can help in the diagnosis of mental health disorders include the following:
These are trained clinical physicians specializing in mental health disorders and prescribe medications to diagnose and treat different mental health disorders.
Child and adolescent psychiatrists;
These physicians are trained medical doctors who diagnose and manage mental disorders in children, adolescents, and young adults.
These health care providers have done a doctorate or masters in psychology and can diagnose mental disorders, subject patients to different psychological tests to analyze them, and provide appropriate management.
Clinical Social Workers:
These healthcare providers have extensively studied social work and have a master’s or doctorate. They can diagnose some mental health disorders.
Several online validated tools and questionnaires are available to check the presence of a mental illness. However, it is always advisable to seek professional help instead of self-diagnosing or self-medicating oneself or loved ones.
Licensed professional counselors:
These healthcare workers have a doctorate or masters in counseling or psychology and are able to treat and manage people suffering from mental disorders.
What to expect from your healthcare provider?
If you are reading this article, you may be worried that you or your loved ones are suffering from a mental health disorder. Remember that most diseases are treatable, and earlier diagnosis leads to favorable outcomes. Please do not hesitate to seek help now. We are only a phone call away.
Once you decide to visit a healthcare professional, you will be asked for a detailed history of symptoms and may be asked to undergo a complete examination. Some medical disorders like hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism and other endocrine diseases may mimic a mental illness. So a detailed exam and some blood work might be ordered to reach an effective diagnosis. Most psychiatrists and psychologists use the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA’s) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to reach a diagnosis of mental health illnesses.
Treatment of mental health disorders:
Most mental health disorders are considered treatable, which means that it is possible to get the symptoms under control with appropriate medication or counseling. Treatment depends on the type of illness, its severity, and some other factors. Some disorders respond to drugs, while others require cognitive-behavioral therapy or other forms of counseling. Others may be treated by a combination of both.
Who can help you seek help?
Remember, you are not alone. There are many ways to seek help. The best way to look for a counselor or therapist is to search online. Other ways that can help you get the support you need may include the following:
Referral from a primary care physician:
Your primary care physician can refer you to a mental health specialist. Your local mental health association can also be helpful.
Employee assistance programs (EAPs):
Employee assistance programs (EAPs) may provide short-term mental health services or refer you to a mental healthcare provider.
Online therapy groups:
It is now possible to have therapy in the comfort of your own home. This is now possible due to the relaxed HIPAA regulations under the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
Support groups are an invaluable source. Although they cannot provide therapy, they can guide you in the right direction and reduce the stigma associated with various mental health disorders, including substance use and schizophrenia. They may decrease the feeling of social isolation and helplessness.
Suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotlines are just a phone call away. Please seek help as mental disorders are treatable.
These may also be able to provide an online database of mental health professionals.
Finding the right therapist:
We are committed to finding you the right mental healthcare professional and providing excellent care to our patients. We use evidence-based medicine with innovative behavioral therapies to provide you with the support needed to heal your mind and body. If you think you and your loved ones need help, we are only a click or phone call away.