Building Your Mental Health Team

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In this post you’re going to learn about how you can mental-health team where healing is possible and increase your chances of beating mental illness. A treatment team can make all the difference.

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Creating an Environment Where Healing Mental Illness Is Possible: A Treatment Team Approach

When I worked in residential treatment, I was able to take part in some seriously amazing growth. I worked with girls who had been through hell — trauma, dysfunctional families — who were experiencing multiple mental illnesses at once — eating disorders, substance abuse, anxiety, depression, complex PTSD, borderline personality disorder, suicide attempts — and often other difficult medical, educational, or situational challenges.

Most of these young women were in treatment because their parents were so worried for their safety that they had no other option.

And we were able to see some pretty impressive and amazing changes occur with this group of girls because we built a relationship of trust. They worked their tails off, and so did we.

And the amount of intervention really helped. These young women and their families got dozens or hundreds of interactions a week to help them change their habits, learn new skills, resolve old trauma, and just get the support they needed.

And while most people don’t have the opportunity to go to residential treatment if they need it, there is one thing that I’ve taken from my experience there that helps me be a better therapist now than I was before. And that’s taking a team approach to treatment.

At that residential treatment center, we held a weekly six-hour meeting where we’d get the entire treatment team together and discuss each case.

We’d have the therapist, the clinical directors, the substance abuse counselor, the recreational therapist, the teachers from the school, the nurses, the psychologist, the dietician, and the staff who interacted with the client every hour of the day. Sometimes we’d have the family call in, or even the house cook. When needed, we’d include the art therapist or the equine therapist.

And we’d share information and make a plan together as to how to support the family, how to intervene. And I credit our ability to create massive, lasting change to this treatment-team approach.

Now that I work in private practice, my clients and I don’t have the luxury of a formal treatment-team approach. But I still do everything I can to create a treatment-team approach to help my clients. And this is something you can work to create to foster your own healing.

So let’s talk about how you can build out your support network and treatment team. There are so many aspects to mental health that I can’t address them by myself. It’s got medical, social, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects. So if you want to maximize your chances of getting better, I encourage you to start to build your team.

Your Family Team

First, let’s start with family. With the client’s consent I try to bring family members to sessions as often as possible. Getting more people involved helps me get another perspective on the problem and also can help build up a support network to help during difficult times. As a therapist, I’m usually only available around an hour a week, and most people need a lot more support than that.

I can also get the family members involved in the change process and work with the relationship dynamics, which can really lead to better outcomes.

Figure out how you can get your family members involved in the healing process. Strengthen your relationships with them. Learn how to set boundaries with them as needed.

Your Medical Team

Next, let’s talk medical. I recommend that you work with doctors to rule out coexisting conditions: run labs and check for deficiencies or any other problems that may be contributing to poor mental health.

Work with psychiatrists and psych nurse practitioners (who are often easier to get into and often give you more of their time and attention) to explore psych med options. It may be helpful to ask your therapist to call your doctor or psychiatrist and discuss symptoms together.

Consider working with integrative medicine practitioners to figure out if there’s underlying nutritional, hormonal, or other issues.

Also, when it comes to medical, it’s good to work with other aspects of physical health — nutrition, exercise, etc.

Your Psychological Team

I encourage people to work with a therapist or a counselor or to access local services in their area like support groups, therapy groups, and educational options, like courses.

When possible, I encourage my clients to see extra helpers during the week, like a substance abuse counselor. Or at the Center for Hope, we have mentors who supplement therapy by giving clients an extra person to talk with each week. 12 step groups, grief groups, and trauma groups can all help that growth and healing happen faster.

Not only do you get the chance to get more support, but you can also learn new skills that can help healing move faster.

Now let me talk about my sponsor for a moment.

BetterHelp is sponsoring this video. And one of the cool things about their services is that you can choose options where you can message your therapist anytime, in addition to your scheduled session. BetterHelp provides professional, affordable online counseling starting at just $65 a week. If you’d like to learn more check out the link for 10% off your first month.

Your Spiritual Team

Work with your pastor or your spiritual community — get connected with God. Join service opportunities. I often work with local bishops who help pay for therapy or can provide valuable context or information. For many people, their spirituality is a source of support and hope and healing.

School Support

Schools can be a great resource. Some schools offer psych testing, counseling, or group services.

I’ve found it helpful to work with teachers and counselors at school to coordinate care for my clients. Many schools are more than willing to help. Other schools may feel overwhelmed or need you or your therapist to advocate to receive services. Universities tend to have many more services, including in-house therapy, therapy groups, and education.

So check in with your school to see what they can do to support you.

Your Community Services Team

In most communities in the US, there are community mental health services which can coordinate a lot of services, from psych testing, therapy, and educational groups, to helping you get governmental services like disability or workforce services. There are a lot of resources out there that many people don’t know about.

Hospitals are also a great resource. They often have groups for things such as grief, depression, nutrition counseling, and other educational services.

Social Support

Of course it’s important to strengthen your support network. I encourage people to reach out to their friends, strengthen their friendships, do service, etc. The more people you can get on your team, the bigger you can build out your support network, the better you’ll be able to work through difficulties, learn new skills, and get healthier.

So I encourage you to choose one way that you can reach out this week to strengthen your treatment team.

Thanks for reading, and take care.

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