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What do I need to know about someone undergoing mental health therapy?

Sheri Van Dijk
Psychiatry

First and foremost, that the person is likely suffering. If someone has sought help for a mental health problem, they are in some distress; and they are brave enough to have admitted to having a problem and sought help for it.

There are many different types of mental health problems. In a September, 2011 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 25 percent of adults in the U.S. reported having a mental illness in the previous year; and lifetime prevalence rates of mental illness in the U.S. were approximately 50%. That means in a family of four, one of you likely has a mental illness. This is a great way to keep things in perspective; it's not about "us" versus "them" - any one of us could develop a mental illness at any time.

So when you're wondering what you need to know about someone undergoing mental health therapy, ask yourself this: if it was me undergoing therapy, how would I want people to treat me? What would I want them to do to help me? Put yourself in the other person's shoes. If you have questions, ask them!

Our media tends to do a really great job of creating fear around people with mental health problems - but the reality is that people with mental illness are no more likely to be violent than those without mental illness. We need to continue working to reduce this stigma, and we do that by bringing compassion and empathy to people experiencing mental health problems.

 

Mental illnesses may range from mild to severe. A person undergoing mental health therapy may suffer from severe mood swings, delusions, or an obsessive behavioral pattern, depending on the problem. In addition, drug therapy may have added side effects such as loss of sleep, tremors, and drowsiness. To care for a mentally ill person, it is important to identify the disorder as well as the mode of treatment, and adhere to both. Psychotherapy or "talk therapy" generally works for all patients, regardless of the severity of the problem and should be introduced on a daily basis.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.