How to Communicate Your Mental Health Needs
Photo © Diana Simumpande
Taking the first step towards addressing your mental health, whether it's setting aside a mental health day to recharge or seeking out a therapist or a mental health provider can be daunting. Women are often seen as the first person to go to as a caregiver and partner; they are viewed as the ones who are supposed to be able to balance it all. We are expected to place ourselves last. This is not good for your well-being and addressing your mental health care needs will only strengthen your other roles. Let's look at five barriers that may stand in your way of taking this essential first step.
Mental Health, unfortunately, still carries the stigma in our society, from the workplace to even with our loved ones. Mental health is starting to be seen as physical health. Just as you wouldn't let a broken arm go untreated and keep using it, addressing your well-being from the inside out is essential. Understanding that mental health is just as important as your physical health is a first good step when it comes to internalised stigma. This is about you getting better.
Lack of Support.
Stigma may play a role in lack of support from loved ones, or it may be your thoughts of how they will react, but you can't take care of others without first taking care of yourself. Use "I" statements and feeling sentences to get the conversation going.
"I feel like I need a mental health day once a week."
"I am not feeling like myself; I would like to talk to a professional about it."
"I don't feel like myself, lately."
However, you phrase it, remember this is about your well-being and getting your mental health back on track.
Healthcare is expensive and not all insurance, if you have insurance, covers mental health treatment in the same way. The cost of treatment may be what puts a barrier between you and therapy. A few different options include contacting your local university, to see if they have a counselling program that is accepting clients. Many students are finishing their degree and need clinical hours to complete and may offer sessions at a low price. Contact centres who also have a sliding scale or community services that may provide free counselling or group counselling.
Living in a rural area may limit your access to providers in the area. Ask your primary care physician for a referral, opening up to family and friends to see if they have any recommendations or seeing if telehealth (therapy through Skype, phone or other electronic means) is becoming much more popular, TalkSpace is a great resource for this. Psychology Today has a Find a Therapist tool, which could also assist with your search as well as SAMHSA's Find a Provider search tool.
School, Work, Family- there are so many things that feel as though they should come first before your mental health, but taking the time is so important. This is the time to sit down and figure out what your exact needs are. You made the first step in realising you need to address your well-being, so sitting down and decide how to take the time to achieve the next step. It can be from a day to yourself to seeking out a therapist or other mental health provider. By knowing what it is you need, it will help you to express to your support system your plan. You can always change and add detail, but figuring out where to start is key.
Hopefully, your next statement will be "I'm getting help", "I'm taking a day for myself", and I am committed to putting my mental health first.