What To Expect When Seeking Psychiatric Care

What To Expect When Seeking Psychiatric Care

by Lydia Young

Seeking medical help for psychiatric related issues can be difficult. While culture has increasingly taken steps to normalize the perception of mental health, there is often still a taboo that surrounds much of it.

As a nurse practitioner who specializes in adult psychiatry, I’ve had the privilege of working with many people who need help in this area. Through that experience, I’ve noticed that often fear can be rooted in the unknown, since the individual does not know how they will be perceived. Let me give you an overview of what to expect when seeking medical help, so you can have more confidence moving forward.

Overcoming Shame and Judgment

Before you ever pick up the phone to reach out, you may first need to overcome feelings of shame and judgment. If you don’t have a problem with this, good. You shouldn’t. However, it has been my experience that many people do.

I can’t speak for every clinician, but our team will treat you as a whole person. Many of the factors that contribute to your mental health go beyond just your brain. If those other areas are ignored, then your treatment could be incomplete or even ineffective.

The primary reason not to feel fear, shame, or judgment is that just as a loving parent would want their child to come to them with any problem, I believe there is a loving Father that cares about you. Each of us was created with value and dignity, but the world we live in is broken. Parts of us may come into this world already broken while other parts of us break as we travel through it.

All of us have parts that we’re not able to fix on our own and we need to turn to each other for help. Your problems may not be everyone’s problems, but I assure you, there is someone else that shares yours. Unfortunately, others may judge you or shame you from a place of brokenness, but as a clinician, I want to serve you with hope and holistic care.

Now, here’s what you can expect to experience at our clinic.

What To Expect

Schedule a visit - Like any other appointment for medical care, the first step is contacting a clinic or provider to schedule a visit. Know that you’re not alone. You’re not the only person to have called that number and asked to see a provider for psychiatric help. To the worker on the other side of the phone, you’re another person taking the important step of prioritizing your health and wellness.

Brief medical history - As with any other visit, whether treating high blood pressure, frequent migraines, lower back pain, etc. a brief medical history will be taken. This is an opportunity for the provider to get a better picture of your overall health and any potential contributors to your current situation. Make sure you bring a list of all your medications and, if possible, any medications you have taken in the past.

Psych history evaluation - The psychiatric history is an overview of any previous treatments, medications or evaluations you have received. It can feel vulnerable, but it’s important that you’re honest with your answers. The purpose of gathering this information is to come up with a unique plan of care. We want to relieve the symptoms that brought you to us as quickly as possible. Understanding your past helps us do that.

A conversation - During the entire interview, the provider is getting to know you better and gaining important clues about the issues that are affecting your life. Everyone is different. You are more than the sum of your problems. Pain is such a powerful experience it can be hard to not see ourselves through its lens. Our job is to guide you through it to a better place.

Not every practice nor provider is the same, either. While this may not be the exact process you experience in every clinic, I hope that you have a better idea of what to expect and have been encouraged to take the next step in seeking help.

A clinical environment where you feel cared for as a whole person and treated as more than a diagnosis is essential to obtaining long-term improvement in your mental health. Even if you have not found this kind of care in the past, don’t let shame, fear of judgment, or the unknown hold you back from finding healing and wholeness.

 Lydia Young

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