Mental health or physical health – what’s more important? Both contribute to your everyday wellbeing and have a profound impact on your quality of life, but we talk about one a lot more than the other.
Talking about mental health still involves overcoming a stigma. That stigma keeps people from talking about real health problems. It has a negative impact on quality of life. It prevents those with mental illnesses from accessing the information they need to receive effective mental health treatment. That isn’t okay – and it’s why I talk about mental health so much that I’m probably boring the people around me.[sc:shn-ad3]
While I can only speak from my own experience, I’ve spent 17 years navigating the choppy waters of mental health care. I’ve had good therapists, bad analysts, good psychiatrists, terrible shrinks, terrific social workers, half a dozen different types of medication (including the self-administered variety) and at long, long last, the ability to feel more like me than I have in all that time. This list is in no way exhaustive or backed by professionals. It’s just what’s worked for me. But I’ve talked to enough friends encountering mental illness for the first time that I can be pretty sure at least some of it will help others.
So. If I could only tell you 9 things about mental health – the 9 things that would really, really make a difference – here’s what they would be:
1. Medical care is worth it.
I say this from a position of privilege, because I’ve had health insurance my entire life. But even if you don’t have insurance, do whatever it takes to get professional medical care. There are free clinics and discounted sliding-scale rates. While I have serious reservations about online therapy (particularly as it relates to government back-door access to private web conferencing companies like Skype or Google Hangouts), if that’s your only option, it might be worth taking it. Find a psychiatrist. Find a good psychiatrist. Find a therapist (by which I include both those with a psychotherapy degree and those practicing under social worker licenses). Find them in whatever order it may be. They are trained professionals, and if you find the right one, they will be invaluable assets as you work on your mental health.