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A Mental Health Moment

By Bernadette Joy Graham, MA, LPC, NCC

Certified Grief Recovery Specialist

If you have completed a mental health assessment you have had some choices to make.  Those choices depend upon if you have received a mental health diagnosis or not.  If you have been diagnosed, you can seek out a second opinion, set up counseling sessions to receive treatment or do nothing and hope for the best. 

If you have not been diagnosed, counseling is still a healthy option. How so?  Life happens. 

We all experience a range of issues throughout our lifetimes.  Some of those issues are not always easy to handle and speaking with a mental health professional may provide some greater insight into making healthy decisions.

 For example, a college student who is not sure how to proceed with her future.  The student can talk through with the counselor about goals and options.  A single mother in a violent domestic relationship may need support and guidance in finding safety for her and the children. 

The counselor/therapist is skilled and educated to provide the tools necessary derived from evidenced-based theories that show best how an individual can move towards a successful outcome. 

Receiving a mental health diagnosis brings with it an enormous stigma thanks to many of our societal and familial “norms.”  Unfortunately, in this day and age, individuals still use terms such as crazy, nuts and retarded.  No one wants to be labeled.  It is bad enough we are judged by many on a daily basis for things not in our control.   

Receiving a diagnosis such as major depressive disorder or bi-polar carries a lot of uneducated weight with no real understanding outside of the notion that there must be something wrong with the individual and his family.  The truth is having a mental health diagnosis is just as “normal” as having a physical diagnosis such as diabetes or high cholesterol. 

The real unfortunate truth is that not many individuals see any good in being realistic in these terms because it can be easily hidden.  Behaviors can be based on any number of reasons.  Mental health diagnoses are based on heredity, genetics, drug abuse, environment or experiences that shaped our development from childhood to adulthood.   Many times, it is a combination especially when drug abuse is an issue.  Many individuals self-medicate with drugs to escape feeling the symptoms of depression, psychosis or mania.

A typical counseling session is 60 minutes that entails the client building a relationship with the counselor/therapist and voicing her needs and goals.  The client agrees to a number of sessions based upon the issue(s) at hand.  Success of the sessions depends upon the openness and the ability to communicate with the counselor/therapist. 

The client is not expected to open up full force on the first session and that is why over time a relationship is built and the counselor/therapist is better equipped to provide the help necessary to meet the client’s needs and goals.  Most important, mental health counseling is strictly confidential.  It is unethical and illegal for a counselor/therapist to disclose any information outside without written release of information by the client or a request from a court system. 

Also, counselors/therapists are mandated to report any information if suicidal or homicidal ideation is present or in cases of child abuse.   Lastly, if you do not feel comfortable with the counselor/therapist you may request a referral to another counselor/therapist. 

Take a mental health moment and ask yourself if counseling would add to the well-being of your livelihood.  Life happens and when it does you want to be equipped to take it on successfully. 


   Bernadette Graham, is a licensed professional counselor, national certified counselor and certified grief recovery specialist.



Copyright © 2018 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 03/08/18 03:51:32 -0800.

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