Making a plan to talk with a health care provider about your psychological health concerns is an important step toward improving your overall health. If you have been through trauma or other challenges, it may be hard to talk about your experiences. A health care provider can help you understand your feelings and maintain your mental fitness. This article offers useful tips to help you choose a provider, prepare for your first appointment and make the most of your visit.
Choosing a Provider
Finding a health care professional that you are comfortable with can help you have a positive experience. If the first provider you meet is not right for you, keep looking until you find someone you feel comfortable connecting with. A psychological health care professional should:
- Respect you and your feelings
- Allow you to express yourself
- Understand that you may need time before you are ready to talk
- Talk to you about a plan to help address your concerns
Preparing for Your First Appointment
Keep track of any feelings or symptoms you experience with as much detail as possible, such as:
- How long the feeling or symptom lasts
- Triggers-such as events, experiences or thoughts- that may make your symptoms worse and what you did to make them better
List your medical information. Include any:
- Physical or psychological concerns
- Names and dosage of medications or supplements
Write down important personal information, including:
- Family members with psychological health concerns
- Major life changes
- Traumatic events
During Your Appointment
Answer Questions Honestly
You may be asked:
- Have you ever experienced a traumatic event? How long ago?
- Are you always on alert or easily scared? At what times?
- Do you often feel irritable or angry? How often?
- Do you drink alcohol or misuse substances? How often?
- Do you have any thoughts about harming yourself or ending your life?
- What‘s causing my symptoms?
- What treatments, if any, do you recommend?
- Where can I find more information about coping with my symptoms?
Bring Someone You Trust or Take Notes
Your provider may give you a lot of information during your first appointment. You may feel overwhelmed by everything you learned, which can make it hard to remember all that was said. Ask a family member or friend to go with you or plan to take notes to keep track of all the information you receive.
Talking about your psychological health can be challenging, but getting help early can improve your chances of a full recovery. Reaching out is a sign of strength and talking with a professional can help. If you or a loved one needs additional support, contact the Psychological Health Resource Center to confidentially speak with trained health resource consultants 24/7 by calling Call 866-966-1020, by using the Real Warriors Live Chat or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Watch video profiles to learn about service members who have successfully used the Military Health System and other psychological health resources for support.