For over 70 years, May has been designated the National Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States. It’s a time to recognize the importance of mental wellness and its impact on our overall well-being, productivity, happiness, and community vitality. But this movement is more than just a reminder to take care of ourselves; it’s a call to action to break the stigma that surrounds mental health and to increase awareness of available treatment options.
Did you know that one in five adults in the U.S. experience mental illness each year? That’s a staggering 20% of the population! Unfortunately, many people suffer in silence, afraid to speak up or seek help due to the stigma that surrounds mental illness. But thanks to National Mental Health Awareness Month, the conversation has started to shift.
Depending on factors like personal preferences, persistence, type, and severity, various treatments exist for mental health issues. Mental health counseling is one such example. Professional mental health services such as counseling have the potential to significantly improve the quality of life for individuals, families, and communities.
Mental Health Disorder
It’s not always easy to talk about mental health challenges. People often feel embarrassed or ashamed, like it’s something to be hidden away. But the truth is, mental health disorder is just like any other illness – it’s nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, speaking up and seeking help is a sign of strength!
The good news is that the conversation around mental health is changing. More and more people are speaking out about their mental health challenges, and the stigma is slowly but surely being broken. National Mental Health Awareness Month has played a significant role in this shift, helping to educate people and create a more supportive environment for those who are struggling.
People of all ages and walks of life are susceptible to mental health concerns. They are common, persistent, and challenging; nonetheless, they are treatable, and many people recover with the help of mental health services.
A mental health disorder, also referred to as a psychiatric disorder, is a condition that affects an individual’s thoughts, emotions, and/or behaviors, causing significant distress and impairment in daily functioning. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) published the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), to aid psychiatrists and other mental health professionals in diagnosing and treating mental health disorders. According to the DSM-5, mental health disorders are caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and social factors and can range from mild to severe.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that approximately one in five U.S. adults has a mental disorder, yet only half of them receive the necessary treatment.
The Power of Mental Health Counseling
Counseling is one of the most effective therapies for mental health issues. Whether you’re dealing with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or other mental health concerns, a professional licensed therapist can help you work through your thoughts and feelings in a safe and supportive environment.
Counseling can take many different forms, from talk therapy to cognitive-behavioral therapy to group therapy. The right type of therapy for you will depend on your personal preferences, the type and severity of your mental illness, and other factors. But with the right treatment plan, you can adopt a healthy lifestyle, identify personal stressors and levels of functioning, and preserve or restore your mental well-being.
Although mental health counselors cannot prescribe or administer pharmaceutical medications, they are able to provide more comprehensive, holistic care by working with other healthcare providers, such as a psychiatrist or primary care physician.
What Does a Mental Health Counselor Do?
Mental illness affects millions of people around the world. In the United States, anxiety and depression, for example, are now so common that they were around four times higher between April 2020 and August 2021 than in 2019. However, seeking effective treatments from mental health providers is essential, as even moderate mental illness can negatively influence a person’s quality of life. This is where a mental health counselor can make all the difference.
As a mental health counselor, there are a variety of responsibilities that come with the job. These responsibilities include:
- Conducting assessments: Mental health counselors are responsible for evaluating a client’s mental health status and developing an appropriate treatment plan.
- Providing individual or group therapy: Mental health counselors will provide psychotherapy to clients either individually or in a group setting, employing evidence-based strategies and approaches to assist clients in managing their symptoms and improving their mental health.
- Developing treatment plans: Based on the assessment and therapy sessions, mental health counselors may create specific treatment plans for clients, which may include recommendations for therapy, medication, lifestyle modifications, or other interventions.
- Maintaining confidential client records: Mental health counselors are responsible for keeping client information private and confidential, which may include notes from therapy sessions, treatment plans, and progress reports.
- Collaborating with other healthcare providers: Mental health counselors may work closely with other healthcare providers, such as professional therapists, psychiatrists, social workers, and primary care physicians, to ensure that clients receive comprehensive and coordinated care.
- Staying up-to-date on best practices and ethical guidelines: Mental health counselors are obligated to stay up to date on best practices and ethical guidelines in the field of mental health counseling, as well as following these guidelines in their work with clients.
The Goal of Mental Health Counseling
The goal of counseling is to help individuals improve their mental health and well-being by addressing a range of mental health issues and concerns. This can include assisting the clients in developing coping skills to manage stress, anxiety, or depression, improving communication and relationship skills, addressing past traumas, improving self-esteem, and enhancing their clients’ overall quality of life.
Counseling aims to create a safe, supportive, and non-judgmental environment where individuals can explore their thoughts and feelings, gain insight into their behavior and experiences, and work towards positive change. The specific goals of counseling will vary depending on the needs and goals of the individual client. However, the primary goal is to help individuals lead happier, more fulfilling lives by addressing the mental, emotional, and behavioral factors that may be impacting their well-being.
Effective Therapies Used by Mental Health Counselors
Psychotherapy is a powerful tool for those struggling with mental health disorders. Fortunately, several highly effective therapies are standard practices for any treatment center with credentialed counselors and therapists on staff. Below, we’ll explore some of these therapies and what makes them so effective.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors contributing to mental health concerns. CBT is often used to treat anxiety and depression.
- Psychodynamic therapy explores unconscious thought patterns and dynamics that may contribute to mental health concerns. Psychodynamic therapy is often used to treat personality disorders and trauma-related problems.
- Humanistic therapy emphasizes a person’s capacity for growth, change, and self-determination. Humanistic therapy is often used to treat self-esteem issues and relationship problems.
- Mindfulness-based therapy focuses on developing awareness and acceptance of one’s thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations in the present moment. Mindfulness-based therapy is often used to treat stress, anxiety, and depression.
- Family Counseling focuses on improving communication skills and resolving conflicts within families. Family therapy is often used to treat family-related concerns such as marital issues, parenting difficulties, and substance abuse.
- Group therapy involves a therapist working with a group of individuals who are experiencing similar concerns. Group therapy is often used to treat a variety of mental health concerns, including addiction, anxiety, and depression.
- Art therapy uses creative expression to explore emotions, improve self-esteem, and develop coping skills. Art therapy is often used to treat a range of mental health concerns, including trauma, anxiety, and depression.
Some counselors may integrate multiple types of therapy into their practice, depending on the needs and preferences of the client.
Benefits of Counseling
Counseling can offer a range of benefits to individuals seeking to improve their mental health and well-being. Some of the main advantages of counseling include the following:
- Improved mental health: Counseling can help individuals manage symptoms of anxiety, mood disorders, and other mental health concerns by providing tools and strategies to cope with difficult emotions and situations.
- Increased self-awareness: Counseling can help individuals gain a better understanding of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and can help them identify patterns that may be contributing to their concerns.
- Enhanced relationships: Counseling can help individuals develop better communication and relationship skills, which can improve their relationships with family members, friends, and romantic partners.
- Improved coping skills: Counseling can provide individuals with tools and strategies to manage stress, anxiety, and other troubling situations healthily and effectively.
- Increased self-esteem: Counseling can help individuals develop a more positive self-image and provide support, safe space, and encouragement as they work towards their goals. It can also improve your confidence and decision-making skills.
- A Greater sense of purpose: Counseling can help individuals identify their values, goals, and aspirations and provide support and guidance as they work towards achieving them.
- Improved quality of life: By addressing mental health concerns and developing coping skills, communication skills, and self-awareness, counseling can help individuals lead happier, more fulfilling lives.
At Turning Point Centers, we understand that mental health is just as important as physical health. Our experienced team of mental health professionals is dedicated to providing the appropriate support and quality care to help individuals affected by mental illness learn to live healthy, fulfilling lives.
But our focus goes beyond just treatment. We believe in educating individuals on the most effective ways to take care of their bodies and mind, so they can truly live their best life. Whether it’s through therapy, medication, or other forms of treatment, we create personalized plans for each individual who comes through our door.