Like other biological diseases, mental illnesses are treatable through the appropriate medical and holistic care. There are many medical professionals who treat a variety of mental illnesses, but nearly two-thirds of people living with a known mental illness never seek help. Stigma has been shown to prevent care and treatment from reaching people living with mental illnesses.1
Below are some ways you or someone you know can find the right doctor, treatment team, and support services that work best for you:
Places to start:
- You can ask for referrals from your family doctor, clergy, social worker, or local crisis centers for information, or participate in a local support group.
- At your place of employment, you can reach out to your Human Resources office to get more information and recommendations.
- If you have health insurance, your insurance can give you a list of providers who are in your plan.
- If you do not have health insurance, find a local community mental health center or public hospital and see what services are offered for people who are uninsured.
These mental health professionals each provide different types of care based on brain illness needs2:
- Psychiatrist – A medical doctor with special training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional illnesses. Like other doctors, psychiatrists are qualified to prescribe medication.
- Psychologist – A professional with a doctoral degree in psychology, two years of supervised professional experience, including a year-long internship with an approved program. Psychologists are trained to make diagnoses and provide individual and group counseling.
- Clinical Social Worker – A counselor with a master’s degree in social work, trained to make diagnoses and provide individual and group counseling.
- Licensed Professional Counselor – A counselor with a master’s degree in psychology, counseling or a related field, and trained to diagnose and provide individual and group counseling.
- Mental Health Counselor – A counselor with a master’s degree and several years of supervised clinical work experience, trained to diagnose and provide individual and group counseling.
- Nurse Psychotherapist – A registered nurse trained in the practice of psychiatric and mental health nursing, and to diagnose and provide individual and group counseling
- National Certified Peer Specialist – A peer with the real-world experience, training, and job experience to create a career in peer support.3
- Assertive Community Treatment Team – A team of community-based medical, behavioral health, and rehabilitation professionals who use a group approach to meet the needs of an individual with severe and persistent mental illness.4
- Marital and Family Therapist – A professional with a master’s degree and special education and training in marital and family therapy, and trained to diagnose and provide individual and group counseling.
- Pastoral Counselor – A member of clergy with training in clinical pastoral education trained to diagnose and provide individual and group counseling.
If you or a loved one is having a mental health crisis, know that there is help. Go to the nearest hospital, emergency room, call 1-800-273-TALK or text HELLO to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to reach someone live. You can also call 911 for immediate assistance. If you are living outside of the U.S., see a full list of country-specific suicide hotlines here.
1“Mental Disorders Affect One in Four People.” World Health Report. World Health Organization, 4 Oct. 2001. Web Dec. 2017. http://www.who.int/whr/2001/media_centre/press_release/en/. 2“Mental Illness and the Family: Finding the Right Mental Health Care For You.” Mental Health America. http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/finding-right-care. 3“MHA National Certified Peer Specialist Certification.” Mental Health America. http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/mha-national-certified-peer-specialist-certification-get-certified. 4“Assertive Community Treatment.” Practices. Case Western Reserve University. Web Apr. 2018. https://www.centerforebp.case.edu/practices/act.