The Value of Using a Mental Health Professional
By John J. Teng, P.E.
Midlife Magazine Founder/ CEO
Including an excerpt from John Teng’s upcoming Book The Hero’s Journey
Since 1949, an organization by the name of Mental Health America set the precedent to dedicate the month of May as a time to help encourage the public to be aware of and care about mental health and wellness.  So to help celebrate this very important cause, I want to share a personal insight with you about how the mental health profession has profoundly benefitted my own personal and professional life, and then I’ll offer you helpful considerations to help you find the right mental health professional(s) to assist you and your loved ones, if and when the need arises.
For several years I suffered my way through what I considered to be an incredibly difficult problem in my life, that was not only adversely affecting my own life, but also the lives of my good wife and our four beautiful young children. And at an extremely low point during this serious personal struggle, I finally caved into my wife’s constant pleas for me to seek professional help. Feeling at my wit's end, I made an appointment with a local psychiatrist and I found myself sitting on his “leather couch” explaining my seemingly unsolvable predicament to him. I felt angry, disillusioned, lost, and scared about what was going to happen to me in my life from that point forward, and I even wondered if I even had much of a future to look forward to.
And during those visits with my psychiatrist, one of the most powerful concepts that he taught me was how to “frame the perspective” of my personal challenges. He said that when any person finds themselves in a desperate place, they can choose to frame their situation in one of two different narratives: the first being that of the main character living out the final chapters of their own in a Greek Tragedy, and the second one being that of a hero that is about to embark on an epic journey. And from those early conversations, I began to think about how that idea of being a “hero” could practically apply to the real-world lives of both men and women, who were slugging it away through the complex challenges of their midlife years just like I was presently doing.
And from those conversations with my psychiatrist, I began to realize that my own particular circumstance was not as dire as I had previously considered it to be. I began to have hope that I actually had a bright and successful future to look forward to. I began to feel less angry towards those people who I felt had contributed to my current difficulties, and I began to see those challenges as the “activation energy” that was required in order for me to flip on the “light switch” within my own mind and body, in order to push me to rise above my current circumstances and be bigger, faster, and stronger than I had ever been in my life before!
Watch John Teng Explain the Value of having a competent mental health professional in your life.
And from those early conversations with a caring mental health professional came the inspiration that began a 4-year journey to write a powerfully informative and inspirational book in order to prove to both midlife men and women that they truly are heroes, in the most impactful and meaningful sense of the word. I wanted both men and women to realize that when they consciously make the decision to finally embark on their own heroic journeys, they open up the very real possibility to realize an entirely new perspective on the purpose, power, and privilege that is theirs for the taking during this very best phase of their existence called midlife! Certainly, no two people share the same circumstances and challenges in life, so I organized my book in a way that would both inform and inspire them to proceed forward along their own personal journeys with confidence and clarity, regardless of where they were today.
It is so clear to me that a competent and caring mental health professional not only helped me to see my way through what seemed like an insurmountable challenge in my life but in doing so most likely also helped to save my life. But understanding that no two individuals will share the exact set of challenges and mental health needs, here are 6 considerations provided by the Mayo Clinic to help yourself and/or a loved one who may need the assistance of a competent and caring mental health professional now or in the future.
- Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Psychiatric mental-health nurse, Physician assistant, Licensed clinical social worker, and Licensed professional counselor, are some of the titles and skill sets that you can consider researching in order to see which one might best meet the needs of your own particular set of circumstances.
- Be sure to check with your insurance carrier to clearly understand what types of mental health services could be covered by your particular insurance plan. You want to be very clear about your financial responsibilities once you start treatment. In my own particular circumstance, my own psychiatrist chose not to take any forms of insurance, so I was obligated to pay out of pocket to meet with him. I then had to submit what is referred to as a “superbill” to my insurance carrier after-the-fact, in order to see if my insurance would pay for a portion of the bill that I just paid.
- Consider seeking out a professional who specializes in helping patients with the particular concern that you are dealing with whether that be a particular addiction, an eating disorder, a family relationship issue, etc.
- Understand that depending on whether or not you require medication to help you with your particular circumstance, not all of the aforementioned mental health professionals are licensed to prescribe medications, so your search for help should also take that factor into consideration.
- Understand that it is not uncommon to have more than one type of mental health professional working with an individual to help them. And you should understand whether the particular team of professionals who will be working on your behalf, are going to be in close communication with each other in order to efficiently coordinate their care services to help you in the most effective manner possible.
- Professional associations such as the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies all provide directories that can help you locate a potentially suitable mental health provider for your circumstances. But also consider reaching out to trusted family members and friends, as well as your primary care physician to help you find a good reference to consider.