Minding Your Mental Health

 Section II - Mental Health Topics

Table of Contents 

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How do you know if you or someone you know needs professional help for a mental health condition?Introduction

How do you know if you or someone you know needs professional help for a mental health condition?

Minding Your Mental Health can help you make this decision. The guide presents information on 24 common mental health topics. Each topic has four parts:

  1. Facts about the topic or condition
  2. “Yes” or “No” questions to help you decide if you should:
  3. A list of self-help tips that can help you or someone you know
  4. What you can do for a friend or relative

(Note:  “Yes” and “No” questions and self-help tips are not found in four topics:

bullet Bipolar Disorder
bullet Obsessive Compulsive Behavior
bullet Paranoia
bullet Schizophrenia

These mental health conditions should not be self-diagnosed or self-treated.)

How to Use This Guide

Find the topic in the Table of Contents. Topics are in order from A to Z. Go to that page and read about it. Ask yourself the “Questions to Ask.” Start at the top of the flow chart and answer “Yes” or “No” to each question. Follow the arrows until you get to one of these answers:

bullet Get Emergency Care
bullet See Physician
bullet Call Physician
bullet See Counselor or Call Counselor
bullet Use Self-Help

What the Instructions Mean

Get Emergency Care
You should seek immediate attention. Either:

bullet Go to the hospital emergency room
bullet Call 911 or other number for emergency medical service (EMS) from your city EMS department or local ambulance service
bullet Call Suicide Prevention, Crisis Intervention Center or your psychiatrist or counselor right away

Make sure you know phone numbers for emergency help. Write them down near your phone.

See Physician
The term “Physician” is used for a number of health care providers, including:
bullet Your primary doctor, internist, etc.
bullet Your psychiatrist
bullet Your Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) clinic, primary doctor or other designated health professional
bullet Mental Health Center
bullet Walk-in clinic or urgent care center

If your answer is “See Physician,” you should do so as soon as you can. You may need medication or treatment for the condition. Call first and ask for an appointment or for immediate care. State the problem. If you can’t be seen soon, ask for a referral. A referral from your physician can help you get to see someone else who can help you. For example, your physician may refer you to a counselor or self-help support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

Call Physician
Call your physician and state the problem. He/she can decide to:
bullet Tell you to make an appointment to be seen
bullet Prescribe medicine or treatment over the phone
bullet Give you specific things to do to treat the condition
bullet Give you a referral to see someone who can help you
See Counselor or Call Counselor

The term “Counselor” is used for a number of mental health care providers:

bullet Your counselor or therapist, if you already have one
bullet A mental health professional provided by your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at work (Many EAPs are staffed by mental health professionals who do brief treatment.)
bullet A mental health professional at your student counseling center
bullet A Mental Health Center
bullet A psychologist (Ph.D.)
bullet A social worker (M.S.W.)
bullet A licensed professional counselor (L.P.C.)
bullet Another health care provider in the mental health field, such as a psychiatric nurse

(Note: You may need to call your primary care physician for a referral to a mental health care provider, including a psychiatrist, if you belong to a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) or other managed health care plan. Also, a counselor may have you join a self-help/support group.)


You can probably help yourself with the problem if you answered NO to all the questions. Use the self-help tips listed. Self-help tips may help prevent the mental health conditions discussed. But if things don’t get better, call your physician or counselor. There may also be “after-care” measures that can maintain progress after getting treatment for a condition. 

To learn more about topics covered in this Guide and other mental health issues, access the Web site, www.nmha.org. Also check the “National Resources” page.

Copyright 2004, 5th Edition, American Institute for Preventive Medicine. All rights reserved.