When you first think you may need some mental health care it can be a very daunting feeling. You may feel ashamed, embarrassed, vulnerable and that you have somehow failed in life. This is exactly how I have felt recently. Although the mental health stigma has come a long way in the last 50 years, I feel that we still have a long way to go. On average there is about 40% of people within America that have mental health issues but do not seek treatment.
This week I found out exactly why those people are not getting the help they need. Simply put our mental health care system is broken and needs fixing. I have always dealt with some anxiety and have always pushed it to one side. Putting a smile on my face, showing the world that I am a strong woman capable of anything I put my mind to. Yet inside I often feel like I am falling apart, failing with the everyday things that life throws at me. I am constantly analyzing myself as a mother, friend, daughter, and wife. Always worrying that we are struggling financially, that the house is a complete mess, that I need to sort out the clutter, clean, carve out family time, meal plan, exercise, and the list goes on. When I get these overwhelmed feelings I end up caving in, becoming a hermit, wallowing in my own misery and things get worse.
I decided that this year I would make myself small goals, celebrate in my accomplishments, focus on self-care and take one day at a time. I know what I need to do to improve my state of mind, however, realistically it will not change overnight and so I wanted to speak with someone. I sat down, turned on my laptop and starting googling the first steps of getting help. Most things pointed to reaching out to a counselor and so I plucked up the courage to email some local professionals. My main concern was how expensive it would be and could I afford the help. Also, I did not have the courage to speak to someone in person or the phone yet so in my email, I stated that I would like them to email me back.
Now you would think that the people that handle these emails would be professional and understanding. So far that is a big negative, one emailed me asking for my phone number and when I responded that I was not ready to talk to someone and would like my concerns answered via email I never got a response back. The other place called me, even as I said I had asked them to email me not call. When I answered the lady at first sounded friendly when I asked them what information they would like she replied with “well you were the one who emailed us what did you want, do you want to speak to someone or medication”. I politely responded but informing her that I did not know what I needed that I just wanted some help. She said, “well to speak with someone will be $100 then if you want to consider medication you have to speak to someone else and that is $180”. I was so upset, there was no compassion in her voice, no care for my mental health, I was not being treated as an individual who needed help.
I did not feel comfortable talking with her anymore so I said thank you and she hung out. This is my first experience reaching out for help and as I sure you can imagine I do not feel comfortable going to either of these places. I do not think it should cost $280 to speak to someone regarding counseling and possible medication. This is exactly why people do not get the mental health care they need. Working in a field such a mental health should be treated with great respect, understanding, be judgment-free and have great customer service. If someone does not feel welcome by the receptionist they will likely not even trust the facility to treat them. This week the same company called me again, I informed them that last week I was treated very rudely and they did not even offer an apology.
So for those of us out there who need mental help and some help with what direction we should take, what do we do? If anyone has any advice I would be more than happy to accept it. It has taken me a week to make this blog post, yet I figured I cannot be the only one who is dealing with something like this. This is exactly what this group is meant to be, a safe haven where we can feel comfortable talking about the reality of our feelings. So here it is the real me showing my true colors. That no matter how strong I appear on the inside, I am not capable of carrying this burden on my own.