Monthly Archives: January 2016

5 Things to Do When You’re Worried About a Friend’s Mental Health



I often run student workshops on a range of issues related to mental health and emotional wellbeing. Regardless of the precise topic, the most common question students ask me is: “What should I do if I’m worried a friend has a mental health issue?”

Perhaps it’s something you’re wondering about, or you’d like to be able to share ideas with your students, friends or your own child. I’ve shared my ideas below, but I’d love to hear yours, too.

1. Listen.

The most important thing you can do for your friend is to make time for them and listen to them. They need to feel listened to, so get rid of all distractions. Giving them the space and time to talk is a really important first step — in the beginning, but also right through (and beyond) the recovery journey.

2. Don’t judge.

More than almost anything, young people with mental health and emotional well-being issues such as depression, eating disorders and self-harm tell me that they fear the judgement of others. They worry people will overreact, thinking they’re crazy or assuming they want to kill themselves. Or sometimes, they worry people will be dismissive and think they’re just attention-seeking. A good friend listens without judgement and sees their friend as a friend — not a unhelpful label like “anorexic or “self-harmer.”

3. Ask how you can help.

When someone shares their struggles and concerns with you, the most helpful thing you can ask is how you can help. There’s no need to dissect the ins and outs of why your friend feels this way — that is the work of a therapist. But as their friend, you can talk to them about what practical measures you can put in place to support them through each day. Think about difficulties and barriers which are making life harder for them. For example, if they’re struggling with anxiety, maybe arriving at school when its really busy makes them feel panicky and out of control. To relieve this, maybe you could walk in with them each day to offer moral support. Exactly how you can help will vary from person to person, so the best thing to do is to have a discussion with your friend to bounce some ideas about. You should also try to revisit the topic every now and then.

4. Seek support — for your friend and yourself.

Depending on the nature of your friend’s concerns, it’s likely you’ll need to encourage them to seek further support. Telling a trusted adult at home or school will enable you to access further support – for both of you. Your friend might be reluctant to share their concerns with anyone else, but if you’re worried it’s important that you don’t go it alone. Also, you may end up developing well-being issues yourself if you take on your friend’s concerns without any additional help. You can help your friend to feel reassured and more in control of the situation by discussing:

WHAT information needs to be passed on – you only need to share enough to access support, not everything they’ve told you.
WHO needs to know – think carefully about who you trust to respond appropriately and support you both.
HOW you’re going to tell them – does your friend want to do it themselevs, do they want you to do it for them, should you to it together or should you write a letter or email?
Of course, we should always try to seek our friend’s consent before alerting someone to their issues. However, there are some circumstances in which you should tell a trusted adult right away to keep your friend safe, and to access support as quickly as possible. These circumstances include:

Self-harm including alcohol or drug misuse
Suicidal feelings
Difficulties concerning food including bingeing, starving, vomiting or laxative abuse
Abuse at home (physical, sexual or emotional)
Abuse from a boyfriend or girlfriend (physical, sexual or emotional)
Bullying of any type
5. Stick by them.

Finally, stick by your friend through thick and thin. It can be hard being friends with someone who’s facing these kinds of difficulties; you may find your friend pushes you away, stops coming out with you, starts acting differently or ignores you completely. But rest assured, your support will mean a huge amount to them (even if they don’t show it) and will help them through their recovery. Even just the occasional text message can mean a huge amount to someone who’s struggling to get through each day.

Good luck – your friend is lucky to have you.


To Someone Who’s Just Been Admitted to a Psychiatric Hospital

Megan Roach By Megan Roach Jan 12, 2016 Mental Illness – Other Mental Illness

Checking myself into a mental health unit because I was suicidal and needed to keep myself safe was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I’ve been hospitalized for suicidal thoughts and behaviors (including self-harm) more times than I can count. Sometimes I was forced to go and sometimes I checked myself in voluntarily.

During those times in the hospital, I felt so unloved and unlovable. I hated myself and didn’t think anyone else cared about me either. Many people in my position share these thoughts, and when that feeling grows it can seem unbearable.

So, if you’ve recently been admitted to a mental health unit or a psychiatric hospital, there are a few things I want you to know as someone who’s been there:

First of all, you’re doing the right thing. I know it may feel like you’ve hit the lowest point in your life right now, but please know it takes an enormous amount of courage and bravery to admit you need help. Good for you for recognizing that and getting the help you need.

Secondly, please know you’re not alone. There are many people who’ve done what you’re doing and there will be plenty of others who need to take care of themselves in the future. Make the most out of your stay in the hospital. It might not be fun, but it can be the start to healing. Go to groups, talk with your nurses and be honest with your doctor about what treatments are working and which are not. Take advantage of your resources — both in your community and from your family and friends. They are there to help you recover.

Thirdly, please try not to let stigma get you down. It’s hard to admit you’re at a hospital for mental health reasons. Some people might make you feel bad, but don’t let that in. You’re strong and brave for getting the help you need, and it will pay off!

And lastly, if you don’t remember anything else I’ve said, please remember you are loved! I believe you were put on this Earth with a purpose. I care about you, and I know so many others care about you, too. Take that to heart and work on healing your mind and body.

No one should feel bad for taking care of themselves.

If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

The Crisis Text Line is looking for volunteers! If you’re interesting in becoming a Crisis Counselor, you can learn more information here.

Author: Megan is the founder of Jogging 4 Journals. She’ll be running one 5k every month to raise money to buy journals for inpatients at her local hospital’s mental health unit. Her goal is to deliever 30 journals every month. To learn more, visit her Facebook page.

Trade The Lies of Mental Illness for Real Love from Family


Stop looking into the lying mirror of mental illness for your self-worth. Instead, look to those who love you to help define your true worth. Read this.

Source: Trade The Lies of Mental Illness for Real Love from Family

Mind Over Mood: Points To Ponder

Posted By Stephen Propst On November 8, 2005
10 Ways to Support Someone with Bipolar

For those of us who have bipolar disorder [1], we are kidding ourselves if we think we can go it alone. While one of the most profound determinants of making a positive recovery is having support from family and friends [2], supporting someone with a chronic illness is not easy. When family and friends understand how things are for those of us with bipolar, it helps move us along the road to recovery and helps us all live more harmoniously.

For those who support us [2], there are ways to reduce stress [3], improve relationships, and make for a better overall quality of life for everyone. Whether the person has been diagnosed as having bipolar [4] and is compliant, or refuses to admit that anything is even wrong, having the right attitude and the necessary basic knowledge is key. Here are 10 points to keep in mind if you’re serious about offering support that helps, not hinders.

1. Never give up hope
Looking back, the first 10 years of my more than two decades of dealing with bipolar disorder were a seemingly insurmountable struggle, but my loved ones never gave up hope. Despite a situation that often created frustration and hopelessness, they never doubted my recovery. Today, they continue to instill that same undying confidence.

There is one piece of advice for anyone who loves someone with bipolar disorder, and it is this: keep the faith and never give up. There have been many times when there was nothing but hope, and you have living proof that it kept me going. So, let your hope for a loved one spread—it’s contagious. [5]

2. Take some time
Time is one of the hardest concepts to convey to people. We all want immediate results, but with bipolar disorder, so-called overnight success can, in fact, extend to years. Studies show that it can take 10 years or more to even obtain an accurate diagnosis (Living with Bipolar Disorder: How Far Have We Really Come? Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance [DBSA] Constituency Survey, 2001). In my own case, it took eight years before someone accurately put a name to my struggle.

With bipolar disorder, there are simply no quick fixes. Thinking there is a miracle cure only makes matters worse, so instead, help your loved one set realistic goals. The road to recovery is not a straight shot; it’s a winding path with delays, downtimes, and detours. Remember progress can be made, but it takes time. Let patience be your guide.

3. Face the facts
Be willing to acknowledge that bipolar disorder [1] is a legitimate disorder. Saying something like, “It’s all in your head,” or “Just snap out of it,” denies that reality. As with diabetes or cancer, bipolar disorder requires medical treatment and management. And as with other chronic conditions, bipolar disorder is initially unfamiliar and frequently unpredictable. It can be gut-wrenching and at times, scary.

It also helps to face the facts when it comes to our current mental health system. If you find it to be disorganized and disconnected, imagine what the patient is experiencing. With your support, a patient can be guided through the maze, find the best care, and stick to a workable treatment [7] plan.

4. Adopt the right attitude
How you see things does matter. With the amount of stigma and discrimination [8] that exist in society at large, the last thing a patient needs is misguided thinking coming from family and friends. More support is needed, not more shame. The more your response is based on reality and not on myths, the more your support [9] can make a difference.

All too often, family members [2] make a loved one feel as though it isn’t bipolar but rather a character flaw or something brought on by the person. Some even view an occasional setback as though it spells permanent doom. Such flawed thinking may be common, but it’s harmful to the person facing bipolar disorder who needs constructive feedback, not destructive rhetoric.

5. Get educated
People who have bipolar disorder often deny that anything’s wrong, and frequently, they don’t stay on their medications. It’s important to learn about these and other nuances of the disorder. Fortunately, there are many resources available today, especially compared to 25 years ago, not the least of which is the Internet.

A national clothing store uses the slogan: “An educated consumer is our best customer.” To support your loved one, consider adopting a similar notion. An educated family member or friend is our best advocate and our greatest source of support.

6. Treat us like adults
A psychiatrist once commented that my body (at the time) was 30-years-old physically, but I was 45 intellectually, and 15 emotionally. Talk about a tough pill to swallow! Bipolar disorder [1] can arrest a person’s emotional maturity and produce behavior that appears very childish and reckless.

Please remember, however, that while someone who has bipolar may act like a child, there is an adult underneath. The world of the person who has bipolar disorder can be full of chaos and confusion, and low self-esteem [11] is common. It can make a big difference when you continue to acknowledge and show respect for the grown human being who is struggling behind all the symptoms.

7. Give us some space
Living with a serious illness is a daunting task. It can be a foreign concept to separate yourself from someone you want to help. But as a support person, it is best to establish a loving distance between yourself and the person who has bipolar.

Set boundaries and establish consequences that encourage those who have bipolar to seek recovery on their own, all the while expressing your concern and willingness to help. Be supportive, patient, and understanding—without being used. Effective encouragement is helpful; enabling is not.

An educated family member or friend is our best advocate and our greatest source of support.

8. Forget the past
Frustration often accompanies bipolar disorder. Family and friends can spend countless hours—if not years—wondering what went wrong [12]. Avoid making matters worse by wallowing in the past.

Pointing fingers solves nothing, blaming is not the answer, and getting angry only makes matters worse. Bitterness and resentment can sometimes act as a trigger and incite more of the behavior you want to stop. Instead, focus on helping make tomorrow better. That’s true support.

9. Take care of yourself
The family suffers right along with the person who has bipolar disorder, so, it’s important for you to develop your own coping skills. Only if you take care of yourself can you help. All too often caregivers [13] end up becoming ill.

During training, emergency medical technicians are taught to never put their lives in obvious jeopardy to save someone else’s. If they did so, they’d be unable to help anyone. Likewise the same is true for you while you are caring for your loved one. Remember that you have yourself—and probably others—to care for as well.

10. Find a healthy balance
There are so many questions: “How much should I be willing to do?” “Should we use tough love?” “How long does this go on?” “How long should we wait before we intervene?” and on and on and on. Bipolar disorder is tough. It’s like walking a tightrope sometimes, where you’ve got to learn to balance your own welfare with the interest you have in supporting [2] the person with bipolar.

You also have to find a healthy balance [14] when it comes to the support you offer. Learn to take things in stride, one day at a time. There’s a time to help and a time to step back; a time to speak and a time to listen; a time to be patient and a time to be insistent.

Now, you have some valuable points to ponder as you help your loved one pursue recovery. The more you’re in the know, the better equipped you are to offer the type of support that can make a positive difference. The reward is a brighter, happier future—for everyone involved.

I know it’s worth the effort.

Article printed from bpHope – bp Magazine Community:

URL to article:

URLs in this post:

[1] bipolar disorder:
[2] support from family and friends:
[3] stress:
[4] bipolar:
[5] it’s contagious.:
[6] Image:
[7] treatment:
[8] discrimination:
[9] support:
[10] Image:
[11] self-esteem:
[12] what went wrong:
[13] caregivers:
[14] healthy balance:

Mental Illness and Us: A Conversation With Agyei Ekundayo


Agyei Ekundayo is a mental health expert that reached out to BGN months ago when we were prepping for our Mental Illness Podcast. Unfortunately, Agyei reached out to BGN after I booked our panel and didn’t have room for another guest, but I wanted to ensure that we got her feedback and commentary about this important subject. Ageyi gave an insightful interview about her personal experiences and also addressed the stigmas placed on people of color in the mental illness community.

Jamie: Why do you think there’s such a negative stigma towards mental health, especially with people of color? Things like depression obviously fall under this category but people are still afraid to speak out on their struggles.

Agyei: Mental illness have always been viewed as a crazy or deranged person’s problem. Media continues to portray people living with mental illnesses as psychotic, violent, or in some other way threatening. We are often thought of as less important or lost causes. To associate oneself with a mental illness is to admit an association with “craziness”, which is an embarrassment for most. Blacks in particular have never given mental illnesses much validity and often assume that mental illnesses and especially suicide, only affect white people.

Jamie: Do you know of any support groups, online or in person that people can turn to for mental health as a whole or specific illnesses (i.e. depression, bipolar, anxiety, eating disorders, etc.)

Agyei: Shame and confidentiality issues are huge barriers to accessing access mental health care. I always tell people to start small, by calling an anonymous hotline. Hotlines are free, almost always available 24/7, and now thanks to technology, can route calls to local support services based on the area code from where the call is placed.
800-273-TALK is the national Suicide Prevention Hotline. Online resources include everything from mental health information summaries, self-care tips, and self-assessments—although these should be used with caution—diagnosis explanation, types of therapies, etc. The best thing to do is to cross reference “expert” or “doctor recommended” information with verifiable sources and talk to a health care provider in your area. Arm yourself with as much information as possible and never feel afraid to ask questions.

Jamie: If you have family members that you suspect have a mental illness, but they refuse to seek help, is there anything you can do?

Agyei: Be careful in your approach. Tough love and reverse psychology do not, I repeat, do not work with people experiencing mental health problems. Listen without judgment, gently let them know your concerns, and take mental notes of behaviors that concern you. Wait until the person is calm or in a good mood before readdressing the situation. You can make phone calls to family support centers, hotlines, and support groups on their behalf and offer to accompany them to wherever they may need to go, but you cannot force anyone to do what they are not ready to do.

Jamie: What are your thoughts about “praying the illness away?”

Agyei: You cannot pray away mental illness. Let me be clear. I’m not saying that prayer doesn’t work or suggesting that a person stops practicing their religion. What I cannot stress enough is that mental illnesses are medical conditions that require medical treatment. It is more sensible to tell a person to seek medical care and include prayer as a part of their healthcare regime. Clergy men and women are not doctors and are not qualified to provide much needed psychiatric counseling. The spiritual counseling that is taught in your average pastoral or religious curriculum isn’t designed, nor sufficient to treat mental illness. Cancer patients aren’t told they don’t need doctors. Kidney disease sufferers aren’t told their blood will detox on its own and therefore, dialysis is unnecessary. No one instructs a diabetes sufferer to forgo their insulin, because blood sugar issues are all in their head and will go away on its own. Mental illnesses are real medical disorders, requiring multiple therapies. There are no quick fixes or one simple solution and they do not “go away” on their own. You simply cannot pray away mental illness.

Jamie: Are there any TV/Film examples of positive imagery of Black people with mental illness?

Agyei: The reality is that drama sells. In pop media, you will more than likely see the destructive side of mental illness, before a healthy, positive depiction of a person living successfully in spite of their diagnosis.

a.) NY Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall is a national spokesman for Borderline Personality Disorder and established a foundation in his name to spread awareness.

b.) Actress Lisa Nicole Carson is also on the speaking circuit openly discussing how bipolar disorder has impacted her life over the last 10 years and how she is overcoming her many challenges.

c.) Although Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder doesn’t just affect military personal, Jennifer Hudson did a good job portraying a war vet stricken with PTSD in Lifetime’s Call Me Crazy. It was her characters’ family’s love, not dismissal that helped medication and therapy easier to navigate.

d.) Halle Berry gave the performance of her career in Frankie & Alice. This true story details the horrors of and eventual triumph over Dissociative Identity Disorder, what used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder. In it, Halle’s character felt hopeless until she allowed herself to believe that she could be helped. The beauty of that hope spoke volumes when she trusted a seasoned psychiatrist to invest a lengthy part of his career in teaching her how to restore her sanity.

Jamie: How can someone that has an undiagnosed mental illness/disorder approach their family/friends/circle with their feelings?

Agyei: The first thing I would tell them is to pat themselves on the back for even trying to seek help. Many people are uncomfortable about experiencing any kind of symptoms and would much rather keep their problems private. Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Talk to someone you trust and let them know how you feel. There are no special code words to use or fancy speeches to blurt out first. Just speak plainly and ask someone to listen. Start there. Let someone know that there are some things on your mind that’s been bothering you and would really like to discuss. Be prepared for some resistance, especially children. There’s a very harmful myth that kids shouldn’t have problems because they aren’t adults or “don’t pay no bills around here”. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyone has problems. It is also very helpful to write down how you feel and why you feel this way. The messages don’t have to be anything fancy, just your own personal thoughts. If one person won’t listen, someone else will.

Jamie: If they receive ridicule or dismissal, how should they go about getting a proper diagnosis?

Agyei: Don’t get discouraged. You are not alone. Even in today’s digital information age, mental illness is still taboo and sorely misunderstood. Search online for counseling services that offer free consultations and those where you can self-refer. Psychiatry/psychology services are specialized, so compile a list of places you can go where a referral isn’t needed. This is only a start, but it gets you in the door. Ask a guidance counselor, family doctor, if you have one, social worker, etc. for names of counselors/counseling practices in your area that are low cost or may even offer free services, until you can establish permanent care. Healing is a process that doesn’t happen overnight or in one doctor’s visit. Therapy and meds come with a price tag, but the benefits are well worth it.

Agyei Ekundayo is author of Hindsight Is 20/20, a memoir. She is an impassioned mental health advocate who enjoys blogging, Youtube, and Skee Ball.

Youtube—AJ Writer

About Jamie Broadnax

Jamie Broadnax is the writer and creator of the niche blogsite for nerdy women of color called Black Girl Nerds. Jamie has appeared on MSNBC’s The Melissa Harris-Perry Show and The Grio’s Top 100. Her Twitter personality has been recognized by Shonda Rhimes as one of her favorites to follow. In her spare time, she enjoys live-tweeting, reading, writing, and spending time with her beagle Brandy.


PSA: Mental Illness IS Black and White

After my last guest post blew up like it did, it was brought to my attention–and realized by me–that I should’ve made the topic of mental illness in the Black community its own individual post.

That’s what it deserves.

I’ve tried my best to not be offensive in any way, and to cover as much as possible. Please, enlighten me on anything I’ve missed.

I’ve never been diagnosed with any type of mental illnesses; I’d like to get that out right now. But I still want to advocate our community into getting help when it’s needed. I have my own experiences where I’ve sought help for the darker times in my life, but wasn’t given the appropriate kind of response when other Black peers and adults were involved.

Once–after a breakup that weighed heavy on my heart, body, and mentality for around 8 months–I opened up about that time in my life to someone years later. How I carried pills with me in case a moment came where I snapped under the consistent pressure and heart-aching battle with myself. How I cried myself to sleep many nights, and couldn’t fathom moving an inch out of bed the next morning. I was told I should’ve prayed about it. I could’ve helped and had control over how I felt if I truly wanted to. As if I wanted to feel as dark, weighted, worthless, fatigued, and miserable as I did.

Another time, I got really down for weeks, and it wouldn’t go away. I got to a point where I was literally scared of the very rare times I was having a good day or moment, because I knew the downward spiral back to that dark place would soon follow. I dreaded it, and was so, so tired. So I sought help from the free campus counseling, secretly.

But I was caught.

I was caught, and the person who caught me was hurt. They believed it was something I’d be able to talk out to feel better, but when I couldn’t even name the source of my sadness I was just called spoiled.

I had made the appointment but was hounded and instigated nonstop until I canceled it. They felt relieved, but I felt even worse. These somber anecdotes I’ve shared are not for pity, but to have something to relate to; I want you all to know you’re not alone. And although my experiences aren’t the most severe, my eyes have been opened to others’ struggles from all different backgrounds and cultures. It’s this type of behavior that needs to be made aware of by everyone. Truly, people in our lives love us, but sometimes they don’t know how to love some of us right.

I feel that especially in the Black community, we’re taught that we’re strong and can power through all trials and adversity. And I agree, we as a people persevere through a lot… But we are still human. We don’t always make it out of adversity unharmed, and when we don’t we’re usually told to pray or suck it up.

I love prayer and communicating spiritually, but it seems like taboo topics such as mental illnesses are assumed to be quickly cured with consistent prayer or a more affirmative “blackness” (whatever that means…), and you’re just overreacting when you don’t just “get better” as is expected of you.

When it’s more serious situations such as deaths or tragedies, our grieving is respected, but hardly talked about. Sometimes people don’t know where to turn, or how to bounce back just enough to cope with the days ahead, and I believe it’s because of the stigma surrounding mental illnesses that the topic stays hidden as if it’s an embarrassment.

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for many people to be ignorant about mental illnesses; it’s something that lacks understanding in many communities. It personally took me almost two decades before I truly grasped the severity of this issue, and the enlightenment came from a teen magazine.

There was a feature on a female Black teen who suffered from mental illnesses. She self-harmed, and when her family found out, they were concerned about the amount of time she spent around white people. They belittled her situation and dismissed her pain and cries for help as simple as a common head cold. “You’re acting up like those white kids you’re always around. And you can’t even tell me WHY you’re doing something so stupid? Just stop letting them influence you, and try to stay away if you can. You’ll be fine then.”
*pat pat* and off they go. Problem solved in their eyes.

But it’s not. Nowhere near. The stigma still exists and so does the lack of help. Bet let’s not keep this one-dimensional, as if not one Black people asks for help due to denial or wanting to keep their problems to themselves. Sometimes we reach out for help, but it still just doesn’t feel like enough. This brings to light that strong Black souls can be broken, and that’s okay (in order to treat and support, not okay to exist in my book). But mental illnesses do exist, and there’s not enough talk about attempting to improve mental health in multiple ways that are long-term.

While putting the finishing touches on this article and my own post back on my blog about this topic, I sighed at the heaviness of it. I was asked what was wrong, and explained what I was writing about. The response was “that’s because Black people don’t really go through those issues.”

If that doesn’t say we need to spread awareness and support, I don’t know what does.
But enough about me in this article, I want this to be a vessel of information for you. Here are sources and advice for when you’re seeking help in a hard situation:

International Suicide Prevention Hotline:

Ask around on campus about free counseling services.
If you need help pushing yourself toward help, find anyone you trust and believe would support you in getting help. Even a professor or old high school teacher.

Teen Health and Wellness Internationally for ALL kinds of mental illnesses:

BGN’s Podcast on Mental Illnesses in the Black Community:

Ebony Article on Mental Health in the Black Community (2012):

Kevin Breel’s TED Talk About Depression for Comics:

My Own Throwback Thursday Blog Post In Memory of Karyn Washington with links (up on the blog by April 9th, 2015):

These are all links that inspired me to write this post, and helped me power-through this mini novel. I pray it hits each of my readers in a positive way, and thank you so so much for getting this far.

Stay strong.

Featured Image from Pixabay / Posted April 9, 2015
Cierra is the creator of, a supportive blog community for adults with unconventional interests and passions such as art, cartoons, anime, video games, and the like. In her spare time she enjoys writing, creating art, reading, studying Korean and Japanese, and cooking. Coconut Chobani makes her knees buckle.

Mental Health Professionals

Mental health professional titles can be confusing. Here are the various types of professionals and their differences.

There are many types of mental health care professionals who can help you achieve your recovery goals. Finding the right one is easier when you know about their different treatment roles. If you have insurance your plan needs to offer you the care providers you need. If one doctor does not accept insurance, they are obligated to find you another. Contact your health insurance provider for more information.

Prescribe and Monitor Medication

The following professionals are able to prescribe medication. They may also provide assessments, diagnoses and therapy.

Primary Care Physicians

Primary care physicians and pediatricians can prescribe medication but it may be wise to consider a visit to someone who specializes in mental health care. Primary care and mental health professionals should work together to determine the best treatment plan for each person. Shortages of health care professionals are not uncommon in many parts of the country. As a consequence, more primary care physicians are being trained and equipped to provide mental health care.


Psychiatrists are licensed medical doctors with medical and psychiatric training. They can diagnose mental health conditions and prescribe and monitor medications. Psychiatrists are also able to offer counseling and provide therapy. Some have special training in children and adolescent mental health, substance use disorders or geriatric psychiatry.

In some states physician assistants or nurse practitioners are also qualified to prescribe medication.

Therapy and Assessment

A therapist can help someone better understand and cope with his thoughts, feelings and behaviors. They provide guidance and help improve the ability to reach recovery goals. These mental health professionals may also help assess and diagnosis mental illness.

Clinical Psychologists

Clinical psychologists with a doctoral degree in psychology are trained to make diagnoses and provide individual and group therapy. Some may have training in specific forms of therapy like cognitive behavioral therapy or dialectical behavior therapy, along with other behavioral therapy interventions.

Psychiatric or Mental Health Nurses

Psychiatric or mental health nurses may have various degrees ranging from a registered nurse with an associate’s degree to a nurse with a doctorate degree as a Doctor of Nursing Practice. Depending on their education and licensing they provide a range of services including assessment and treatment of mental health conditions, case management and therapy.

School Psychologists

School psychologists with advanced degrees in psychology are trained to make diagnoses, provide individual and group therapy and work with parents, teachers and school staff to insure a healthy school environment. They may also participate in the development of individualized

education plans (IEP) to help improve the school experience of the student with a mental health condition.


Working with a counselor can lead to better ways of thinking and living. Counselors assist with developing life skills and improving relationships.

Clinical Social Workers

Clinical social workers have a master’s degree in social work and are trained to make diagnoses and provide individual and group counseling, case management and advocacy. Clinical social workers often work in hospitals or clinics or in private practice. Licensed, independent social workers (LICSW) have undergone an extra certification process.


Counselors are trained to diagnose and provide individual and group counseling. Counselors may focus on different areas: Licensed Professional Counselor, Mental Health Counselor, Certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor, Martial and Family Therapist.

Pastoral Counselors

Pastoral counselors are clergy members with training in clinical pastoral education. They are trained to diagnose and provide counseling.

Peer Specialists

Peer specialists have lived experience with a mental health condition or substance use disorder. They have often received training and certification and are prepared to assist with recovery by developing strengths and setting goals.

Social Workers

Social workers (B.A. or B.S.) provide case management, inpatient discharge planning services, placement services and other services to support healthy living.

See more at: Updated March 2015