Parenting is Hard – You are not alone
Mental Health Realities
The following post is long, but please read it. The information provided is essential!
The topic is deeply personal and important to me.
I pray that by reading the following information you are able to help someone someday.
We don’t talk to parents about Mental Health struggles early enough
No one talks about Mental Health struggles and realities in the life of your child when you are having a baby. It is not a part of “What to expect when you’re expecting” or what to expect when you become a parent. It is as if everyone believes if we are present for our children, if we recognize and talk about our feelings, if we teach our children to be positive and thankful – we will be ok. All of these are important things to do as a parent, but they don’t prevent Mental Illness. The truth is that most people are touched by the realities of mental illness in some way. I do recognize that we are talking about Mental Health more all the time- we are working on fixing the stigma. However, It is still so easy to feel alone when these struggles become a part of our reality. It is so easy to feel like we did something wrong, like if we had only had done…..……this wouldn’t have happened. I am convinced that the only way to really change the Mental Health culture in our country is to have a yearly visit to a counselor or Mental Health professional be part of the routine from the very beginning. We go to the doctor for physical check ups every year from birth and as a result we aren’t embarrassed if our child gets sick and they have to get an antibiotic. We take our children to the dentist and eye doctor for yearly check ups from the start and we aren’t embarrassed if they need glasses, dental work , or braces. Yet we don’t take them for yearly check ups with a Mental Health professional and as a result there is a stigma when we need medicine or help for a mental health struggle. We need to change this and we can only do this if we make it part of the check up routine from day one – make it part of what we “expect when we are expecting” and what to expect when we become a parent.
I have always been very emotionally aware. I have prided myself on talking about things that bother me and teaching our kids to do the same. We have a very open house. When we are sad you know it, mad you know it, happy you know it, blah you know it….Our house is crazy, some might say too loud….but at least we are talking about things. The line you often hear in our walls is, “If someone hurts you, you need to respectfully let them know. If you say something and they do nothing – shame on them. If you say nothing and they don’t do anything – shame on you.” We worked hard to have our kids know we feel all the emotions and it’s ok, we all struggle and it’s ok. We worked hard to make sure our kids were taken care of physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally. We taught them to look at the positives and to get up when they fall down. We taught them to be thankful. We did all this and our family has still been intimately affected by mental health struggles. Depression, suicide, anger and anxiety have been part of our reality. You are not alone.
If you even suspect or have a feeling that someone you love needs help or is facing a Mental Health struggle – GET HELP!
How do you know if you are Depressed?
There is no fool proof answer for this question. Each person is different, thus each response to this may be different. Here are some questions you can ask that might help you answer this question.
(The article and information below can also be found at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/find-help/index.shtml)
How to Get Immediate Help in a Crisis
Call 911 if you or someone you know is in immediate danger or go to the nearest emergency room.
Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255); En Español 1-888-628-9454
The Lifeline is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Lifeline connects callers to the nearest crisis center in the Lifeline national network. These centers provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals. People who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have hearing loss can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889.
Text “HELLO” to 741741
The Crisis Text hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week throughout the U.S. The Crisis Text Line serves anyone, in any type of crisis, connecting them with a crisis counselor who can provide support and information.
Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press 1 or text to 838255
The Veterans Crisis Line is a free, confidential resource that connects veterans 24 hours a day, seven days a week with a trained responder. The service is available to all veterans, even if they are not registered with the VA or enrolled in VA healthcare. People who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have hearing loss can call 1-800-799-4889.
Call 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746
The disaster distress helpline provides immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. The helpline is free, multilingual, confidential, and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Contact social media outlets directly if you are concerned about a friend’s social media updates or dial 911 in an emergency.
Here are 5 steps you can take to help someone in emotional pain:
ASK: “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” It’s not an easy question but studies show that asking at-risk individuals if they are suicidal does not increase suicides or suicidal thoughts.
KEEP THEM SAFE: Reducing a suicidal person’s access to highly lethal items or places is an important part of suicide prevention. While this is not always easy, asking if the at-risk person has a plan and removing or disabling the lethal means can make a difference.
BE THERE: Listen carefully and learn what the individual is thinking and feeling. Research suggests acknowledging and talking about suicide may in fact reduce rather than increase suicidal thoughts.
HELP THEM CONNECT: Save the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s number in your phone so it’s there when you need it: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also help make a connection with a trusted individual like a family member, friend, spiritual advisor, or mental health professional.
STAY CONNECTED: Staying in touch after a crisis or after being discharged from care can make a difference. Studies have shown the number of suicide deaths goes down when someone follows up with the at-risk person.
Find a Health Care Provider or Treatment
Treatment for mental illnesses usually consists of therapy, medication, or a combination of the two. Treatment can be given in person or through a phone or computer (telehealth). It can sometimes be difficult to know where to start when looking for mental health care, but there are many ways to find a provider who will meet your needs.
Primary Care Provider: Your primary care practitioner can be an important resource, providing initial mental health screenings and referrals to mental health specialists. If you have an appointment with your primary care provider, consider bringing up your mental health concerns and asking for help.
Federal Resources: Some federal agencies offer resources for identifying health care providers and help in finding low-cost health services. These include:
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): For general information on mental health and to locate treatment services in your area, call the SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). SAMHSA also has a Behavioral Health Treatment Locator on its website that can be searched by location.
- Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA): HRSA works to improve access to health care. The HRSA website has information on finding affordable healthcare, including health centers that offer care on a sliding fee scale.
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS): CMS has information on its website about benefits and eligibility for mental health programs and how to enroll.
- The National Library of Medicine (NLM) MedlinePlus: NLM’s website has directories and lists of organizations that can help in identifying a health practitioner.
- Mental Health and Addiction Insurance Help: This website from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers resources to help answer questions about insurance coverage for mental health care.
National Agencies and Advocacy and Professional Organizations: Advocacy and professional organizations can be a good source of information when looking for a mental health provider. They often have information on finding a mental health professional on their website, and some have practitioner locators on their websites. Examples include but are not limited to:
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America
- Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
- Mental Health America
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
State and County Agencies: The website of your state or county government may have information about health services in your area. You may be able to find this information by visiting their websites and searching for the health services department.
Insurance Companies: If you have health insurance, a representative of your insurance company will know which local providers are covered by your insurance plan. The websites of many health insurance companies have searchable databases that allow you to find a participating practitioner in your area.
University, College, or Medical Schools: Your local college, university, or medical school may offer treatment options. To find these, try searching on the website of local university health centers for their psychiatry, psychology, counseling, or social work departments.
Help for Service Members and Their Families: Current and former service members may face different mental health issues than the general public. For resources for both service members and veterans, please visit the MentalHealth.gov page Help for Service Members and Their Families page or the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs’ mental health page.
Deciding if a Provider is Right for You
Once you find a potential provider it can be helpful to prepare a list of questions to help you decide if they are a good fit for you. Examples of questions you might want to ask a potential provider include:
- What experience do you have treating someone with my issue?
- How do you usually treat someone with my issue?
- How long do you expect treatment to last?
- Do you accept my insurance?
- What are your fees?
A great article about the benefits of seeing a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner for your Mental health needs (shared by Nurse Journal)
For tips for talking with your healthcare provider:
Refer to the NIMH Taking Control of Your Mental Health: Tips for Talking with Your Health Care Provider fact sheet. Treatment works best when you have a good relationship with your mental health provider. If you aren’t comfortable or are feeling like the treatment is not helping, talk with your provider, or consider finding a different provider or another type of treatment. If you are a child or adolescent, consider speaking with your doctor or another trusted adult.
Do not stop current treatment without talking to your doctor.
Learn More about Mental Disorders
NIMH offers health information and free easy-to-read publications on various mental disorders on its website in the Mental Health Information section. The website is mobile and print-friendly. Printed publications can be ordered for free and free eBooks are available for select publications. Many publications are also available in Spanish. To order free publications, order online (haga su pedido por el Internet en Español) or call 1-866-615-6464 (TTY: 1-866-415-8051).
(The above article and information can also be found at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/find-help/index.shtml)
Help for Children and Teens
The Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine offers the following resources:
(The information above can be found at Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine) https://www.adolescenthealth.org/Resources/Clinical-Care-Resources/Mental-Health/Mental-Health-Resources-For-Parents-of-Adolescents.aspx)
Help for Military Service Members and Their Families
(The following article and information can also be found at https://www.mentalhealth.gov/get-help/veterans )
Military OneSource is a free service provided by the Department of Defense to service members and their families to help with a broad range of concerns, including possible mental health problems. Call and talk anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 1-800-342-9647.
DCoE Outreach Center
The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) provides information and resources about psychological health, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and traumatic brain injury. To contact the center:
- Call 1-866-966-1020, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
- Real Warriors Live Chat
- E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
TRICARE® is the health care program serving uniformed service members, retirees, and their families worldwide.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Mental Health Resources
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Mental Health Resources provides information about mental health and support services specifically for veterans.
- The VA Mental Health connects veterans to mental health services the VA provides for veterans and families. All mental health care provided by VHA supports recovery. The programs aim to enable people with mental health problems to live meaningful lives in their communities and achieve their full potential.
- Vet Centers: Community based centers that provide a range of counseling, outreach and referral services to eligible veterans in order to help them make a satisfying post-war readjustment to civilian life.
- National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: The center’s purpose is to improve the well-being and understanding of individuals who have experienced traumatic events, with a focus on American veterans.
- National Call Center for Homeless Veterans: Resource to ensure homeless veterans or veterans at risk for homelessness have access to trained counselors 24/7. The hotline is intended to assist homeless veterans, their families, VA medical centers, federal, state and local partners, community agencies, service providers and others in the community.
- Make the Connection: VA’s public awareness and outreach campaign. The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness on mental health symptoms, conditions, and treatment and encourage Veterans to get the care and support they have earned through their service.
National Resource Directory (NRD) The National Resource Directory (NRD) connects wounded warriors, service members, veterans, and their families with national, state, and local support programs. NRD is a partnership among the Departments of Defense, Labor, and Veterans Affairs.
DoD/VA Outreach Moving Forward: A free, online educational and life coaching program that teaches problem-solving skills to help you to better handle life’s challenges. It is designed to be especially helpful for veterans, service members and their families.
(The information above can also be found at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/find-help/index.shtml)
(The following information can also be found on the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs’ mental health page At https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/MENTALHEALTH/get-help/index.asp
If you are a Veteran in crisis — or you’re concerned about one — free, confidential support is available 24/7. Call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, send a text message to 838255, or chat online.
Tobacco quitlines can double your chance of quitting, compared with getting no support at all. Any Veteran receiving health care through VA is eligible to use the Quit VET quitline. Call the quitline to speak with a tobacco cessation counselor.
Call 1-855-QUIT-VET (1-855-784-8838), 9 a.m.–9 p.m. ET, Monday–Friday.
Veterans Crisis Line
The Veterans Crisis Line connects Veterans and Service members in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring VA responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text.
- Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, 24/7.
- Chat online.
- Text to 838255.
War Vet Call Center
The War Vet Call Center is a confidential call center where combat Veterans and their families can call to talk about their military experience or any other issue they are facing in their readjustment to civilian life.
- Call 1-877-WAR-VETS (1-877-927-8387), 24/7.
Women Veterans Call Center
The Women Veterans Call Center (WVCC) provides VA services and resources to women Veterans, their families, and caregivers. You can also chat online anonymously with a WVCC representative.
- Call 1-855-VA-Women (1-855-829-6636) 8 a.m.–10 p.m. ET, Monday–Friday;8 a.m.–6:30 p.m. ET, Saturday.
- Chat 8 a.m.–10 p.m. ET Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–6:30 p.m. ET, Saturday.
Real Warriors, a program through the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE), provides information and resources about psychological health, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and traumatic brain injury.
- Call 1-866-966-1020, available 24/7.
- Chat online 24/7.
If you are caring for a Veteran, the VA Caregiver Support Program offers training, educational resources, and a variety of tools to help you succeed.
- Call 1-855–260–3274, 8 a.m.–8 p.m. ET, Monday–Friday for advice on being a caregiver.
- Find your local Caregiver Support Coordinator.
Coaching Into Care
This VA program provides guidance to Veterans’ family members and friends for encouraging a reluctant Veteran they care about to reach out for support with a mental health challenge.
- Free, confidential assistance is available by calling 1-888-823-7458 Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. ET, or emailing CoachingIntoCare@va.gov.
(The Information above can also be found at: https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/MENTALHEALTH/get-help/index.asp)
Addiction and Mental Health Resources for Veterans
Additional Resources for Military and their Families (because when we help in practical ways we help them in mental and emotional ways)
Recognize the correlation between Addiction and Suicide
15 Coping Skills for Depression from Pelorus TMS mental health center
Mental Health First Aid
US Dept of Health and Human Services
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Depression and Bipolar Alliance
Mental Health America
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Project Semi Colon
National Institute of Health
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
US Department of Health and Human Services – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
A guide to common Mental Health Illnesses
All the information from the post above has been cited throughout the article. I have given specific indications when information has been taken from other sources and what those sources specifically are. The intent of this article is to share information, not to try to take information as my own or take credit for any information mentioned above.