It is important to talk about mental health for a few reasons. Mental health conditions affect more than one in five Americans. It is likely that the reader knows someone who is dealing with a psychiatric disorder. Suicide is an unfortunate end for many who struggle with emotional disturbances. Pundits link gun violence to the emotional troubles of the individuals who commit mass shootings. Mental health is as important physical health. This is why insurance companies do pay for the treatment of mental health disorders.

Another reason to address this topic is to overcome the stigma attached to mental health concerns. We once had a stigma about breast cancer; no one talked about it. Now we have pink ribbons and 5 K runs. HIV was also marginalized and I have heard people in the past say that this disorder only affects gay people and IV drug users. Now a prominent athlete is speaking out for more research and prevention; billions of dollars are being spent on these efforts.

Yet mental health issues are lagging when it comes to stigma.

Treatment professionals use a manual that lists mental health conditions in order to classify, to describe and to treat them. It is important to be able to diagnose these issues accurately. Psychiatric problems, which are sometimes overlooked or unknown by many people, can take many forms. They span the gamut from developmental difficulties that occur early in life to those that occur with older adults.

Other common disorders are ADHD, substance use disorders and personality disturbances. How many times have we heard people complain about dealing with an individual who “is a narcissist?” Finally, there are the most common diagnoses such as anxiety and depression. Individuals do recover from these difficulties. There are many professionals who are trained to address these disturbances. They often work as a team.

Mental health providers specialize in aspects related to psychological problems. They are not alone and include police officers as well as nurses. Law enforcement professionals do come into contact with individuals who are a danger to themselves or to others. It is possible to have someone involuntarily committed for evaluation and treatment under the right circumstances. Mental health conditions are overrepresented among those individuals who have become involved with the criminal justice system, as well as those who are homeless.

Psychiatrists prescribe medicine, while a percentage of them also conduct psychotherapy. It has been demonstrated that medication is not enough; outcomes are better when an individual receives both psychotherapy and medication. Also, not all mental health issues can be cured or managed by medications. Family and friends can make a huge difference in the treatment of psychological problems. Support for individuals dealing with mental health issues has been shown to reduce symptoms and to improve functioning.

Psychologists practice testing and research and they are trained to provide counseling, which they largely do. They can prescribe medications in a handful of states as well. Licensed Professional Counselors are professionals who are trained to provide assessment and treatment of mental health disorders. They have advanced degrees and are licensed by the state. Licensed Professional Counselors have specialized training to address mental health conditions.

There are very many therapies that professional helpers use. It is important that an individual knows how to research treatment options because there are some pseudoscientific approaches in the field (as there are inferior practices with most services). A good internet web search should suffice to understand the treatment options that are available. A person must be an informed consumer, as is true of many goods and services. What we do know is that just about every method works for someone, while no treatment works for everyone.

There is hope if you or someone you know is grappling with mental health issues. The website Psychology Today is a resource that lists psychiatrists and therapists in your area. A national crisis and help line phone number is 988; you can also text this number. A chat option is available at A website that offers information on mental health conditions is Another resource for treatment options is Finally, there is the website for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Timothy Robinson is the president of the Licensed Professional Counselors Association


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