Mental health encompasses your emotional, mental, and social well-being. It affects your ability to make good decisions, react to stress, and determine the quality of your relationships. So, what is mental health care? It’s taking care of your mental health and whatever you need emotionally.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in five adults will experience mental illness in a given year, making mental health issues among the most common health conditions in the US. Mental health care means taking care of your mental health the same way you do your physical health.
What are the Elements of Mental Health?
Mental health care seeks to identify and treat each element of a person’s well-being. The components of mental and physical health work together because the mind and body are connected, so you must focus on your health holistically.
Aspects of mental health are:
- Physical. Changes in physical health are often the first sign that your mental health is suffering. These changes can include alerted appetite, sleep, or energy levels.
- Emotional. Poor emotional health can show up in multiple ways. One way is poor emotional regulation. It can feel like your emotions control you instead of vice versa. Another way is through intense feelings of despair, hopelessness, confusion, or dread. If you’ve gone days, weeks, or months feeling this way, you may want to seek help from a mental health professional.
- Social. If you find your personal relationships suffering, your mental health may be to blame. One way this can show up is difficulty connecting with or relating to close friends or family members. You may go through periods where you shut yourself off from them when, in fact, difficult times are exactly when you should reach out to them.
What is Mental Health Care You Can Practice
Many people associate mental health care with mental health professionals. While that’s certainly where people should go when they need mental health assistance, there are things you can do on your own to improve or protect your mental health.
“It’s essential to understand mental health and work diligently to care for yourself so that you can live your life to the fullest,” said Sheena Miller, MA, LPC, MHSP, Clinical Manager at Integrative Life Center.
Practices that improve mental well-being include:
- Healthy Routines. Establishing healthy routines like eating nutritious meals, getting enough sleep, and moving your body every day help improve your outlook on life. These routines are good for your physical and mental health.
- Practice Gratitude. Grateful people view the world through a more positive lens. Focus each day on recognizing things you’re grateful for, even on bad days.
- Challenge Yourself. Forward momentum makes you feel like you’re making the most of your life. Regularly challenge yourself professionally, physically, and mentally. Apply for a promotion, learn something new, or work a crossword puzzle. Accomplishing goals and doing difficult things helps boost joy and feelings of satisfaction.
- Connect with Others. Spending time with loved ones and connecting in authentic relationships is positive for your mental health and overall well-being.
- Be Mindful. Think of yourself and what’s best for you before you make decisions or commitments. Your well-being is your most important asset. Setting boundaries and caring for yourself first is your responsibility.
What Types of Professional Mental Health Care are Available?
If you find that you’re having mental health challenges, you may need help from a mental health professional. Luckily, many treatment options are available to help you get back to your best self as quickly as possible.
“You don’t have to deal with mental health concerns alone. It’s not necessary to ignore or just deal with symptoms when there’s so much help available,” Sheena said.
Mental health treatment programs include:
- Outpatient Programs. Sometimes referred to as commuter programs, outpatient treatment is any treatment received without an overnight stay in a hospital or treatment center. Often it’s weekly or monthly therapy, depending on the severity of the issue.
- Hospital Inpatient Programs. These programs can either be in a general hospital or a treatment center. Inpatient treatment can help you analyze the conditions that caused the issue in a structured environment. Depending on the severity of the issue, you may benefit from a full or partial hospitalization program.
- Residential Inpatient Programs. Residential programs are often for longer periods and vary in intensity. As with hospital inpatient programs, individuals may benefit from being removed from the triggers of their day-to-day life so they can focus on their mental health treatment and healing.
- Intensive Outpatient Programs. Intensives are short residential treatment programs that focus on a specific issue. The goal of an intensive is to help jump-start your healing process.
- Group. In group therapy, one or more mental health professionals lead a group of about five to 15 people who experience a similar mental health concern. Some people may go to group therapy in addition to individual therapy. The community nature of group therapy makes it helpful to many people.
Mental Health Care Treatment Modalities
In addition to having various settings and duration of treatment, people will also experience various treatment approaches. No two people are the same, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to mental health treatment. Different modalities exist, and mental health professionals often recommend various approaches to treatment for a single client.
“The best mental health treatment is individualized. Each person is different and so are their needs. Look for a therapist or treatment center who will customize your treatment to reflect your needs,” Sheena said.
Mental health treatment modalities include:
- Varying Participants. Treatment can be for an individual, couple, family, or group. Depending on the nature of the problem, it may be beneficial to go to therapy with your significant other or family member. You also may have a mixture of individual sessions and sessions with that person.
- Evidence-Based Therapies. These are approaches to treatment that researchers have tested and proven effective. It’s important to ask your mental health professional how they use these in their practice.
- Experiential and Adventure Therapies. Experiential therapy uses activities to address mental health concerns. These therapies can include art, play, animals, or music. Adventure therapy uses challenging adventure-related activities like kayaking, hiking, or climbing to try and promote healthy identity development, self-efficacy, grit, and a growth mindset.
Benefits of Mental Health Care
Deciding to pursue treatment for mental health issues takes strength and determination, but the benefits of feeling mentally healthy are many.
“You have one unique life. You deserve to feel safe and whole and to live your life as the healthiest version of yourself,” Sheena said.
Mental health care can help you:
- Gain Coping Skills. Life is never perfect, and bumps in the road are bound to happen. When they do, good coping skills can help you navigate them.
- Build Relational Skills. These are the skills that allow you to interact effectively with other people. So much of a person’s mental well-being comes from the strength and quality of their relationships, so building relational skills is vital.
- Heal Trauma. Trauma can come in all shapes and sizes, so you may not even know you’re dealing with emotional trauma until you speak with a professional. Healing your trauma allows you to live in the present and show up for yourself more fully.
- Recover from Addictions. Mental health care can also help you recover from addictions. By examining the root causes of your addiction and what triggers you into reaching for a substance, you can move toward more constructive methods of dealing with difficult emotions.
- Establish Healthy Boundaries. Effective boundaries are vital for building healthy relationships, but sometimes it can be difficult to set them. Therapy can help you discover what yours are and learn how to establish them.
- Strengthen Confidence. Mental health care can help strengthen your confidence by revealing your self-efficacy and ability to solve problems.
Seeking Mental Health Care at ILC
Mental health care is essential to practice independently and with a professional when you need help. At Integrative Life Center, we want you to live your best, most authentic life. If you have mental health concerns and need assistance from a professional, we’re here to help. Contact us today to learn more.