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Recent statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health indicate that approxi­mately 26.2 percent of all adults over the age of 18 in the United States alone suffer from a diagnosable mental illness. That is more than one in every four adults, and it does not count those who have troubles but not to the extent of meeting a diagnosis. If you or someone you love is among that 26.2 percent, please get help immediately and don’t waste any more time. There are many caring, qualified therapists who can help you address mental health issues and assist you in attaining a better quality of life.

Here are 10 important tips about therapy and finding the best help for mental health matters.

  1. There are many common misconceptions about what therapy is and how to find a qualified therapist to help. By understanding the misconceptions and knowing how to overcome them, you open the door to finding professionals who can help in your healing process.
  2. Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding mental illness often prevents people from getting the right help at the right time. This must stop! If you broke your leg, you would go to the doctor. If you had the flu, you would get medical help. So why, if you are feeling depressed or anxious or any other type of issue affecting your mental and emotional well-being, should you feel embarrassed about getting help? The answer is simple: You shouldn’t! Asking for help is a sign of strength and bravery, not weakness.
  3. Mental health issues can have an impact on almost any aspect of a person’s life, with a vast array of possible diagnoses available. Take the time to educate yourself about the types of mental illness that exist and how you can prevent mental illness from progressing by getting timely help.
  4. How do you know if you really need help? I like to use one week’s time as a rule of thumb. If you are noticing a change in mood or behavior that is lasting for a week or more, it is wise to consult a mental health professional.
  5. If you know where to look and what to ask, the process of finding an exceptional therapist need not be daunting. When it comes to mental health and counseling services, most communities offer a variety of options and a range of prices.
  6. By educating yourself about the process of therapy, you can develop realistic expectations of how it may help you. Although counseling can be extremely helpful in healing, there is no “magic bullet” that solves all problems. Your dedication and personal commitment will be just as important as your therapist’s skills.
  7. Professional psychotherapy should be healing, a process, a relief, enlightening, reflective, confidential, a catalyst, action-based, and a challenge to old beliefs and patterns.
  8. Professional psychotherapy should never be a personal friendship, a sexual relationship, stagnant, or a “quick fix.” If you see results quickly, great! But the goal is sustainable change over time for long-term impact.
  9. Many times I am asked, “Will I be told to take medication?” The answer to this depends greatly on your symptoms and ability to function and the therapist’s general approach to therapy. Medication is not for everyone, yet it is a lifesaver for some.
  10. As with anything in life, commitment and consistency are the keys to success. You are the primary factor in your health and wellness. Love yourself enough to take the necessary steps to get healthy and stay healthy!
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