Blog Post

Column: Mental health care is necessary, underutilized health care service

“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”  I came across this quote on the internet a few years ago. I don’t know who said it, but the message has stuck with me.

We all struggle from time to time – no matter our age, financial status, ethnic background or religion. Some of us have physical ailments or disabilities, while others may have mental health concerns. But many people have a mix of the two. So, why isn’t our usual approach to treating mental wellness the same as it is for physical wellness? When a cough or shooting pain doesn’t go away after a couple days, it’s time to make an appointment with your doctor or go to an urgent care center to seek medical treatment.

Sadly, most people do not treat depression, anxiety and other severe mental health disorders with the same immediacy as they would the flu. I speak from experience when I say that you’re not going to get better by ignoring the problem or simply thinking positive thoughts.

With all of the mental health treatments now available – from counseling and support groups to medication and breathing exercises – there is no need to suffer in silence. If you find yourself struggling to always put on a brave face and “be strong” for those around you, it might be time to seek help.

IT IS OK TO NOT BE OK. If you don’t know what to do, start by talking with a trusted friend or neighbor, your pastor, or the counselor at your senior center. Make an appointment with your doctor for a mental health screening, treatment and/or referrals. A combination of medicine, psychotherapy (a.k.a., counseling or “talk therapy”), and other approaches might be best for you.

Medicare and mental health
One depression screening each year is covered by Medicare. Medicare Part B (medical insurance) helps pay for several other mental health services, including individual and group psychotherapy, psychiatric evaluation, medication management, partial hospitalization, and treatment for alcohol and drug misuse.

Be patient and take care of yourself. Every day will not be easy or pleasant. But with the proper treatment, you can learn to accept challenges in life and face them with calm assurance. You can’t change what happens to you, but you CAN change your reaction to it. And, that makes all the difference.