Whether you’re feeling anxious or depressed, or struggling with negative thinking patterns, it can be hard to reach out and ask for help. We’re here to support you in finding the care and resources you need. Read on to learn about when to ask for help, how to get started, the different types of mental health providers and more. Or, sign in to your account to find a therapist or counselor in your network.
Mental health conditions can be difficult to recognize. They may not be obvious, especially to ourselves. If you’re experiencing some of the following signs, it might be time to speak with a mental health professional:
- Changes in behavior that are affecting your school or work performance
- Intense worrying or fear
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
- Noticeable changes in your eating or sleeping habits
- Trouble coping with life’s daily challenges
- Withdrawing from friends, family or activities you once enjoyed
- Significant mood changes or swings
- Feeling sad or apathetic for long periods of time
Sometimes people don’t get the help they need because they don’t know where to start. It can feel overwhelming, and some symptoms, like lack of motivation or hopelessness, can make it even harder to reach out. But research shows that the earlier you seek treatment, the better.
Your primary care provider is a great place to start. If you don’t have one, you can use our provider search tool to find someone in your network. Even if you don’t think your condition will require medical treatment, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about your symptoms, so they can help you find the right kind of care.
Talk therapy & counseling
These both involve talking one-on-one with a therapist or counselor. Talk therapy, also known as psychotherapy, may include specific types of therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or interpersonal therapy.
Usually led by one or more psychologists, group therapy brings people with common experiences together to help each other cope and work through issues.
Talking with a therapist or counselor virtually can be approachable, convenient and effective. Though virtual therapy has many advantages, it’s not for everyone. If you have severe symptoms or a complex condition, in-person therapy may be a better fit.
For some people with mental or emotional disorders, a doctor may recommend prescription medications as part of the treatment plan.
Acute inpatient care
For people who need intensive, around-the-clock care during a mental health crisis, inpatient care involves staying overnight or longer in a hospital or psychiatric hospital.
Sometimes called a residential treatment program or rehab, this intensive type of care takes place in a 24/7 facility and is for people with chronic disorders.
Therapists (also sometimes called counselors), psychologists, psychiatrists—with so many types of mental health providers, it can be hard to figure out who’s right for you. Understanding the differences and who offers what type of care can help you know what to expect. Here’s an overview of the types of behavioral health professionals. (Job titles and licenses can vary by state.) Providers must be licensed to be covered by insurance.
Certified peer specialists
Certified peer specialists have lived experience with a mental health condition or substance use disorder. They’re not therapists or licensed, but they’re trained and certified to support recovery. Be sure to check your benefits, since many certified peer specialists may not be covered under your health plan.
Therapists & counselors
These behavioral health professionals have master’s degrees and are trained to evaluate a person’s mental health and provide counseling. This includes therapists, like marriage and family therapists and counselors.
Clinical social workers
Like therapists and counselors, clinical social workers have master’s degrees and are trained to evaluate mental health and provide counseling. They’re also trained in case management and advocacy services.
Psychologists have doctorates in clinical psychology (PhD or PsyD) or other specialties, such as counseling or education. They can evaluate your mental health using clinical interviews, psychological evaluation and diagnostic testing. Psychologists tend to focus on social, cultural and environmental factors. In most states, they can’t prescribe medication.
Psychiatric or mental health nurse practitioners
These nurse practitioners hold Master of Science degrees or doctorates. They specialize in psychiatry and are trained to work in the mental health field. They assess, diagnose and provide therapy for mental health conditions, and in some states, they’re qualified to prescribe medications.
Psychiatrists are licensed medical doctors (MDs or DOs) who’ve completed psychiatric residence training. They can diagnose mental health conditions, provide therapy and prescribe medication. They focus on exploring biological and neurological factors, and often treat complex conditions, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, severe depression and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Ready to find a provider? Sign in and use our search tool to find someone in your network. You can filter by provider type, gender and area of focus—such as post-traumatic stress disorder or LGBTQ+ care. If you need help finding someone who can see you, chat with us online or call us at the number on the back of your member ID card.
Self-care has been clinically proven to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. It can help you adapt to changes and be more resilient when setbacks come your way. Here are a few simple self-care practices:
- If you feel overwhelmed, take deep breaths, stretch or meditate.
- Eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
- Exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep.
- Try to avoid using alcohol and drugs to help you relax.
- Set aside time each day for activities you enjoy.
- Connect with family or friends you trust.
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