Your mental health is important! Sometimes, we may hand over our care to someone like a family member or psychiatrist. In the moment, that may be important, but in the long run, it’s your responsibility.
Too often I see clients defer their mental health healing to me as the “expert.” And while I have some expertise, you’re ultimately the expert of your lived experience. As such, I want you to make informed choices so you feel empowered to take the reins on your mental health care.
Here are some tips from my experience as both a client AND therapist, so you can for advocate for yourself:
1. Read the practice policies of your provider’s offices. It’s easy to skip over, but there’s usually important stuff to remember.
2. Save your provider’s contact info and know how to get in touch with them, whether for general info or in case of an emergency.
3. Know what medications and dosages you’re on—very important!
4. If things aren’t working with your meds, say so! Make sure your therapist is on board with what’s going on with medication and supplements so they can advocate for you and get in touch with your medication provider.
5. Figure out what style of counseling works for you—if you’re not sure, shop around.
6. Don’t just take a therapist or doctor’s word for things. Do your own research. Practice skills you learn in session and see what works for you (or doesn’t).
7. If you’re ambivalent about something, then say so. Mental health professionals worth their salt will be open to talking about your hesitations.
8. Back to #6—use the skills you learn and make them your own. Just hearing about a skill or practicing it a couple times in session isn’t going to stick unless you use it daily in your everyday life.
9. If you want to get the most bang for your buck in therapy, then you have to be willing to do the work to take care of yourself. No one else can do that for you. It’s a hard truth, but, as Lizzo says, sometimes the truth hurts.
10. Tell people what you need and be open to receiving support. We can do all kinds of “work” but sometimes we also need to be willing to let others in so they can help us. Not everyone is going to know how to do that, so we have to give suggestions. For example, you might need: silence, a hug, listening, advice, a glass of water, doing something fun, or taking a break.
Hope that gives you some ideas! Your mental health is just that—YOURS. Take care of your brain and your body. They’re doing their best for you.