Outpatient Mental Health and Addiction Treatment

Marcelina Hardy, MSEd, BCC
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Being diagnosed with a mental illness and/or having an addiction are both circumstances which are difficult to cope with. Perhaps you know that you need help, but you don't know where to turn to. Seeking outpatient mental health and addiction treatment can help you get the therapy, medication and guidance you need to get your life back to where you want it be.

How Outpatient Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Helps You

When you enroll in outpatient treatment for mental illness and/or addiction, the first step is an assessment. A counselor will ask you questions about your daily routine and the symptoms you are experiencing. She will ask you about medications you have tried in the past and what you now take for your mental illness or any other medical problems you have. The counselor will also explore other treatment you've received and take note of what has worked for you and what hasn't. This way, the treatment facility knows where to start when creating an individualized treatment plan for you.

The mental health and addiction center may also ask for consent to gather information from your physician and other healthcare professionals. If you do not feel comfortable sharing this or any other information, you don't have to disclose it. Simply state that you are uncomfortable providing that information at this time.

After the assessment, you will have a counselor or case manager assigned to you. This person will help you devise goals in a treatment plan for you to work on. This treatment plan may include individual counseling, group therapy, meeting with a psychiatrist and taking medication. You'll receive an individualized treatment plan to meet your specific needs, and it may change as you meet each step in your goal towards recovery.

Finding Mental Health and Addiction Centers in Your Area

To find mental health and addiction centers in your area, start by consulting your physician. If you do not have a physician or you do not wish to meet with him, you can locate an agency using the Internet. However, a physician can rule out physical reasons for some of the emotional issues you might face. Thyroid disease is one possibility that can contribute to apathy, depression, and an overall appearance of mental illness. So, consulting your physician first is usually best.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

This organization's mission is "to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities." They uncover the need for mental health and substance abuse care by educating people and providing information. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website has a page which you can search for mental health and substance abuse centers in your area. If you don't have one of these centers near you, the site will help you find the closest one.

Mental Health America (MHA)

This organization advocates for people with a mental illness by providing information and education, and it also supports research in prevention and recovery. Local agencies of MHA help citizens find the care they need, whether it's through therapy, medication management and/or support groups. The Get Help webpage of this website will help you find you local MHA center.

Other Options to Finding Treatment

If you're unable to find treatment centers with these two websites, you can also try your local phone book or contact your area's human services department. The staff can provide you with a wealth of information. In addition, you can call a local hospital and ask the operator for information about mental health or substance abuse centers. You may be transferred to a social worker who can provide you with this information.

An Important Tip About Seeking Treatment

Seeking treatment isn't easy; it can be frustrating, emotionally exhausting and depressing. However, getting appropriate treatment is your first step toward recovery. The sooner you get through the enrollment process the quicker you'll get to feeling like yourself again and gain control of your life.

Outpatient Mental Health and Addiction Treatment