When symptoms of a mental health condition emerge, knowing whom to contact can be somewhat confusing. Below provides some information on who to contact first, type of professionals one might see, and tips on seeking a provider.
If you have health insurance, you can either contact your health care provider or contact your insurance provider for covered health providers. If you do not have insurance or you have limited coverage, you may want to call your county to see if you qualify for services for mental health treatment.
Depending on the type of coverage you have and what your health provider recommends, the type of health professional you see initially may vary.
Primary care providers or general practitioners can provide the initial assessment to see if you are experiencing a mental health condition. If necessary, they can provide medications for certain types of mental health conditions and can also provide a referral to a mental health professional for further evaluation and treatment. They may also utilize labs or medical tests to rule out any contributing health issue that may be causing your symptoms.
There are many different types of mental health professionals and many types of therapies. The type of therapy will often depend on each individual and the condition(s) that need to be addressed. Certain mental health professionals can also prescribe medications if needed.
Things to consider or to ask when seeking a provider:
- Review information (bios) about available health professionals. What are their specialties? How available are they at the desired location?
- Do you have any specific requests for finding a health professional? (culture specific, gender specific, faith-based, prior military background, etc.)
- Your appointment may be set up by a scheduler. Be sure to let them know if you have any specific requests.
- Would it be helpful to have a trusted friend or family member help you make the first appointment? For some, a loved one may provide that needed encouragement and support for seeking care.
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If you are in crisis or thinking about harming yourself, or know someone who is, tell someone who can help immediately.
- Do not leave your friend or relative alone, and do not isolate yourself.
- Call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room to get immediate help, or ask a friend or family member to help you do these things.
- Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889) to talk to a trained counselor.