Sometimes mental health issues are more than we can handle on our own. If your symptoms are severe, or if they last for more than a few weeks, then it's important that you seek out professional help. If you are experiencing a number of common signs of mental health issues, especially if they are impacting your ability to function or people around you have expressed concern, it is time to seek treatment. This can be very scary, but your mental health is very important.
Dealing with Stigma
One of the biggest barriers to receiving treatment for many people is the stigma surrounding mental illness and treatment. Many people may hesitate to seek help because they are worried about how other people will see them and behave around them.
Stigma is when someone is marked or discredited somehow, or reduced from being a whole person to being a stereotype or labeled as a collection of symptoms or a diagnosis. People with mental illness may be viewed in a negative way, treated differently, and made to feel ashamed or worthless, as if they are somehow less than other people.
Don’t avoid getting treatment. Don’t let your fear of being labeled or discriminated against, stop you from seeking help and treatment.
Don’t believe that you are your illness. If you have bipolar disorder, say ‘I have bipolar disorder’ rather than ‘I’m bipolar’. If you convince yourself first that you’re a person, not a walking illness, others will find it easier to see you that way too.
Don’t take it personally. Most discrimination comes from people who don’t understand or have little or no experience of mental illness. Try to consider it as their problem, not yours.
Use facts. Learn some useful facts and figures, and tell people about it.
Where to Seek Mental Health Treatment
Because it's very common for students — especially international students — to need help adjusting when they arrive at college and throughout their stay, there are a number of services available to you. In fact, most colleges in the US offer mental health services for their students to use. You can ask your advisor about these services even before you leave your home country. Where you go for treatment is going to depend on a number of factors.
For Ongoing Conditions
If you are dealing with a mental health condition before leaving for the US, be sure to find a doctor near you who can help manage your care within a few weeks following your arrival in the States. You'll want to make sure that you do not have a break in medications, and that you can continue to receive the same level of care that you received back home.
If you need immediate help, there are 24-hour toll-free hotlines available to talk you through difficult times. If you have a physical ailment that needs immediate attention, such as a drug overdose, you should go directly to the Emergency Room. Call a friend or 911 for assistance.
If you are not experiencing an emergency, start with a visit to the student health center. Many colleges and universities offer free or low-cost counseling services. These services may be a part of the student health center, or they may be a separate counseling and wellness center on campus. Simply call them up and make an appointment; in some cases, you may even be able to walk in and be seen right away. Your student health center will be staffed with highly trained professionals who are ready to help. From here, your student health center may direct you to the appropriate place to seek treatment.
Remember: The student health center is the cheaper option for most students to receive treatment, but it's important to be aware that some insurance plans will not cover treatment for mental health conditions received at the student health center, so be sure to check your insurance plan and find out the cost before seeking treatment.
Before seeking mental health care, it's a good idea to check the specifics of your insurance plan to find out what it covers in terms of mental health.