Medical check-ups allow you to monitor your physical well-being; however, your health care shouldn’t stop there. How often do you check on your mental health? If not so often, here are five steps to help you take charge of your mental health.
Step 1: Look for Mental Health Providers
Finding the right mental health provider can be a challenge. The Defense Center of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) Outreach Center can help you get started. Professionals are available 24/7 by phone at 866-966-1020, online chat or email to listen to your questions and connect you with a specialist in your area of need.
If you’re already in treatment, but transitioning to a new location or out of the military, the DCoE inTransition program is a free, voluntary program with coaches who provide psychological health care support. Coaches can help you:
- Connect to your new providers
- Find local community resources and support groups
- Search for crisis intervention services
- Empower you with tools to continue making healthy life choices
Step 2: Ask Questions
After finding the right mental health professional, prepare a list of questions to ask your new provider. Questions like “What kind of treatment plan is best for me?” and “How will my mental health impact my family?” are good ways to engage your provider. The Real Warriors Campaign has a blog specifically on psychological health questions to help prepare you for your appointment.
Real Warriors also offers on-the-go content such as the booklet “Know the Facts on Psychological Health”.
Step 3: Learn What You Can
You’ve found a provider, had your first mental health visit, asked good questions and received a diagnosis. Naturally, you want to know more about what that means for you. During your research, be cautious about information overload. Sometimes searching the internet can take you down a rabbit hole. Look for information from credible and authoritative sources.
The Deployment Health Clinical Center encourages you to know about your mental health. Search the center website to find:
- Resources related to the history of your condition
- Current treatment regulations and approaches
- New findings and continuing developments
The Deployment Health Clinical Center provides resources for patients and families to learn more about psychological health conditions and substance use disorders. The center also offers a blog series on current mental health topics for clinicians.
Step 4: Get Proper Treatment
It’s time to travel the road to care and recovery. Getting proper treatment that fits your mental health needs is one of the most important steps. Not all forms of treatment work for everyone. It’s wise to remember this journey is uniquely yours, and it’s important to stay the course of treatment.
Coaching apps such as PE Coach, Mindfulness Coach and ACT Coach work together with your health care provider’s personal treatment plan for you. These apps encourage you to develop positive relationships with your providers and actively participate in your treatment. If you need tips to get going, the apps have those too.
Other apps like Positive Activity Jackpot help you find enjoyable activities to distract you when the going gets tough.
Step 5: Follow-up, Follow-Through and Repeat
Follow-up with your health care provider as often as you need to and keep asking questions. Use resources to follow-through with recovery and to help you keep an open mind about your mental health. And most importantly, stay with treatment – it works!