Hi all! Welcome back to our blog. I know that I took quite a long hiatus however, as you all know, your mental health comes first! In our last blog we discussed the importance of maintaining a healthy well-being. If you missed it, you can catch up here. Even though National Mental Health Month is over, I want to wrap up May by discussing how you can reach out for help if your mental health is suffering as well as how you can be a support / advocate for others.
Reaching out for help can be a scary and vulnerable thing to do. You might be experiencing emotions such as:
Fear / Worry
Shame / Embarrassment
Rest assured that all of these feelings are quite normal and even expected. Whether you’re going to your local community services board for counseling or you’re seeking out a private practice, each counselor is equipped to handle all of your questions, comments, and concerns. With new Telehealth regulations in place for an indefinite amount of time, you can even see a mental health provider over the computer using confidential telehealth software, over FaceTime, text or phone call as a part of Virginia’s COVID-19 State of Emergency Response. This means that clients now have more choice in who they see for sessions as they can live in one jurisdiction but see a counselor in another. To find out whether you can receive telehealth services for behavioral health, check with your insurance company to see what services are and are not covered. If you have Medicaid, check out this Medicaid MEMO from Director, Karen Kimsey at the Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS).
Reaching Out to a Counselor
There a few different ways you can reach out to a counselor if you’re want to start services.
1. Community Service Boards – In Virginia, each jurisdiction has its own Community Service Board (CSB). CSB’s are dedicated to providing a plethora of behavioral health and human services to their community including case management, psychiatry, outpatient counseling, mental health skill building, substance abuse treatment, and intensive services just to name a few. Not only do these service boards accept Medicaid but also have significant sliding scales that offer some services free of charge or on a payment plan to those who are struggling financially. To find the CSB in your jurisdiction, enter your city, zip code, or county into the search bar of the CSB/BHA Directory from the Virginia Association of Community Services Boards, here.
2. Private Practice – If you have insurance and you’re looking for a specific counselor that specializes in a certain subject area or has specific characteristics that match your own (i.e. race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.) then taking time to research private practices is in your best interest. Ways in which you can locate and reach out to a private counselor include:
A simple google search for practitioners near you. Example: “Private behavioral health practices near me” or “Counselors/Psychologist in (enter city/zip code/county here).”
Using the “Find Care” or similar link on your insurance’s web page/app to see what providers are in your network.
Talking with the Behavioral Health department at your local hospital.
Obtaining a behavioral health referral from your primary care physician.
Utilizing free therapist search websites like PsychologyToday.com.
3. Mental Health Treatment Facilities - If you believe you require more intensive services like crisis stabilization / psychiatric hospitalization or that you have a become a threat to yourself or others, you can also reach out to psychiatric and crisis stabilization residential units as well. Most of these facilities require that you be evaluated and medically cleared by your local CSB or the psychiatric team at your local emergency department. You can browse through the 2019 National Directory of Mental Health Treatment Facilities from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for a list of treatment facilities organized by state.
Reaching Out to a Friend or Loved One
Sometimes the hardest part isn’t reaching out to a therapist but disclosing your issues to your peers, friends and family and asking for support. Social Support plays a big role in the effectiveness of treatment, resiliency and well-being. Therapist Aid offers an amazing comprehensive guide / worksheet on Social Support that will help individuals “learn about, and explore, their social support system. The psychoeducation portion of the printout explains the benefits of social support, types of support, and ways to build social support” while the applied portion of the activity helps individuals “to explore their own support system with questions about barriers, how supports could be used to deal with current problems, and more.” Don’t forget that once you find a therapist, (s)he can help communicate your issues and build your social support network as well.
Freedom Support Services is open and accepting new clients for those of you who are interested. We offer individual, couple’s, and group counseling both in person at our Christiansburg location or via Telehealth. To schedule an intake appointment, call (540) 744-6162 for a free consultation, instant message us on Facebook, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out our new Request for Services form on our website.
If you have a friend, coworker, or loved one with mental health issues and you’d like to support them, here are a few simple ways you can do that according to this helpful guide on Supporting Others from Mental Health America (MHA):
1. Increase your active listening skills
2. Don’t compare your situation to theirs thus resulting in invalidation of their feelings
3. Simply ask what it is you can do to help them
4. Keep your promises
5. Be open-minded also known as being non-judgmental
6. Offer to help with Activities of Daily Living (i.e. grocery shopping, cleaning, going to doctor’s appointments, etc.)
7. Know when your peer, friend or loved one needs extra help and reach out to you local CSB or crisis hotline for extra guidance. If they are a danger to themselves or others, call 911.
In conclusion, whether you are reaching out for help yourself or you’re trying to help someone else, we know and understand that it can be difficult. Hopefully the information above has provided some clarity and reassurance that we are all in this together. We are here for you and you never have to suffer in silence.
Next time, we will be discussing and sharing some resources for those of you have been struggling with recent events surrounding racial disparities in our country.