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Where to Turn for Mental Health

It's normal to feel stressed or anxious now and then. But it's time to call for help if emotional issues persist for a significant period of time and interfere with your life, your job, or your personal relationships.

With all the mental health resources and effective treatments available these days, you don't need to suffer and wonder what's wrong. Education and awareness have done much to erase the stigma once attached to mental illness. Still, many people don't seek help for mental health needs.

Mental conditions are real, and can be life-threatening, but they're also common and very treatable. How do you know you need help? As with many physical conditions, change is the key. If you have a marked and persistent change in personality, mood, or eating or sleeping habits, that's a sign something may be going on.

Symptoms to look for

These are other warning signs:

  • Feeling unable to cope with your day-to-day problems, work assignments, or usual household activities

  • Being overwhelmed by a deep sense of sadness, hopelessness, or helplessness

  • Having extreme mood swings, from high or hyper to down in the dumps

  • Abusing alcohol or drugs

  • Getting very angry or acting violently

  • Having thoughts about suicide or hurting someone else

  • Having a plan of how you would commit suicide

If you experience any of these symptoms, it's better to get treatment sooner than later. These are warning signs that you definitely need help.

Make the call

Get help right away any time you believe you might hurt yourself or someone else. Call 800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433) or your local crisis center. Or, look in the government pages of your local phone book for the numbers of emergency mental health treatment facilities near you. Finally, if you are in an immediate state of crisis, it is best to go to a hospital emergency room for temporary help. The emergency department physicians will also be able to tell you where and how to receive additional assistance.

Other resources:

  • Your health care provider. Your doctor knows you and probably will notice any changes in your mood or personality. Your doctor can also rule out possible physical reasons for your symptoms.

  • Employee assistance programs (EAP). If your company has an EAP, ask for a referral to an appropriate provider or treatment program in your community.

  • Community mental health centers. These organizations provide counseling and other services on a sliding-fee scale, based on your income.

  • Crisis centers. On-site mental health professionals provide immediate evaluation and treatment.

  • Support and self-help groups

  • Word-of-mouth referrals. These can come from friends or family.

  • Psychiatrist or medical doctor. These professionals can provide counseling and prescribe medication.

  • Psychologists. These professionals have doctorate degrees and specialize in psychotherapy and human behavior.