Early signs of mental health issues and how to get help

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Cold and cough? You would hurry to the doctor. Feeling down or tired for six months? You would probably find something to reproach yourself with. It’s true that seeking professional help for mental health issues is unfamiliar territory for most, and people tend to brush these issues aside, thinking they’re making a big fuss about a minor issue or it should all be in their head. They are also likely to be concerned about the reactions of their family and friends if they are on therapy.

Also, as with other health problems, understanding psychological problems is not easy and the symptoms are not always obvious. The person may also be reluctant to spend time and money on their mental health, given that for most this is not a priority.

Debasmita Sinha, psychologist and clinical director of Manah Wellness, talks about some common signs that a person may need a mental health professional.

“Long-term emotional health issues (usually lasting two weeks or more) should generally be discussed with a mental health professional. These problems include low mood or sadness, anxiety/inability to relax, mental fog or trouble concentrating, unexplained tiredness/difficulty getting started. or live a day; a sudden feeling of disinterest in things that used to give pleasure; thoughts of harming yourself or committing suicide; or any unexplained change in appetite and/or sleep,” says the psychologist.

A mental health expert says that while your emotional health may not interfere with your daily life or your professional duties, it does indicate that something needs attention. She emphasizes that, like all diseases, mental health problems, if caught early, will increase your chances of recovery.

Help is needed even in difficult situations

Another sign that you need to see a mental health professional is that you can’t handle a difficult life event on your own. Even the healthiest people can struggle with stressful events or transitions in their lives. Getting professional psychological support right from the start can soften the emotional shock and prepare you to deal with the stress that comes with these events.

“If you’ve lost a loved one, gone through a divorce or separation, a stressful move or a new project, or been physically or emotionally abused, you may need help,” says Debasmita Sinha.

Why Some People Delay Seeking Professional Psychological Help

Here are some common concerns people have about seeing a mental health professional that can delay the treatment process:

1: “I don’t want others to know I’m seeking counseling/therapy”

Fact: The social stigmatization of mental illness is the result of low awareness. Fortunately, the situation is changing, and society is gradually becoming more tolerant of people with mental illness. Every citizen of India is legally entitled to good health (including mental health) and the right to access quality mental health services. Such services must be completely confidential so that patient confidentiality is not compromised. So go ahead, use your right… the law is on your side!

2. “I don’t need a stranger to solve my problems”

Fact: When you need surgery or some other type of specialized treatment, you go to a doctor who is trained in that particular condition. Similarly, a mental health professional is trained to deal with the various determinants of mental health and can help you address your problem in a systematic and holistic way.

3. “I don’t have time/money for counseling/therapy”

Fact: Taking time to deal with emotional issues will help you in the long run because it will prevent further build-up of stress, which can further prolong treatment and recovery time. If you’re on a budget, there are plenty of free or affordable therapeutic platforms out there.

Who to contact for the right mental health professional?

Once you have decided to go with a professional, you need to find out who is best suited for your needs. Here are some types of mental health professionals.

Consultations/Clinical Psychologists: These professionals must have at least a master’s degree in psychology. They are trained to detect mental health conditions, conduct psychometric assessments, and treat conditions through psychotherapy. Professionals with a master’s degree in clinical psychology can also diagnose people.

Advisory consultants: These are people with degrees in counseling or certain conditions who can provide guidance and advice in those areas, such as education, marriage, or careers. They usually do not detect or diagnose conditions that are outside their area of ​​expertise.

Mental health social workers: These people have a master’s degree in social work with a specialization in mental health. They provide support and first aid, and work as part of communities or social impact organizations.

Psychiatrists: These are doctors with an M.D. or psychiatric degree. They are trained to diagnose and prescribe medications to patients. They may or may not be trained in psychotherapy.

Psychotherapists: These are clinical psychologists or counseling psychologists who have received additional training beyond basic psychotherapy. They usually specialize in one or more forms of psychotherapy.

All these professionals do not work in isolation. Because patients may require a combination of medication, counseling, or therapy, it is quite common for psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychotherapists to work closely together to create the optimal treatment plan for a person.

(With the participation of Debasmita Sinha, psychologist and clinical director of Manah Wellness)

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