Dr. Bert Price
You may be going to the doctor regularly, exercising, and taking care of your physical health, but are you taking care of your mental health? Just like you would go to a doctor to keep your body healthy, going to a therapist is a great way to keep your mind healthy. Many people, however, do not receive care for their mental health. Data shows that 20% of Arkansans have a mental illness, but only 9% of them receive the care they need.
What is causing a gap in mental healthcare?
While awareness of the importance of mental health has come a long way, some people fear judgment from their peers or doubt therapy can help. Others may face difficulty finding a therapist near them or may be struggling to choose a therapist who meets their needs. When it comes to taking good care of your mental health, it can be hard to know where to start. By reducing these barriers, we can help Arkansans find the care they need.
Benefits of Therapy
Therapy can have a positive impact on your mental health. In fact, approximately 75% of those who try it report improvements in their symptoms and quality of life. Therapy can help with both short-term and long-term emotional needs. Some of these benefits include:
Improvement to your day-to-day life
- You don’t have to go through extreme hardship or trauma to benefit from therapy. The everyday struggles can affect us all, and many people would be better able to handle this stress with therapy. Therapy can provide you with the tools to manage daily stressors.
Ability to address your emotions
- Sometimes we react strongly to situations that don’t necessarily warrant such big emotions. Or sometimes people feel intense feelings of anger or sadness for no apparent reason. Therapy can help you pinpoint why you feel that way and what you can do to address the emotions you are experiencing. Therapists can also validate and name emotions. When we know what to call our feelings, we are better able to manage them.
Treatment of mental health conditions
- Grief, anxiety and depression can affect anyone – at any age and of any race or ethnic group. With mental illnesses like depression, it’s important to get help. You don’t have to suffer in silence. A therapist will work with you in a safe space to develop a treatment plan.
- Whether they are romantic, friendships or workplace relationships, if you feel like you are having trouble connecting with others, your therapist can help you find out why.
Usually, it is a crisis or key experience in our lives that brings us to therapy. I like to think of the benefits of therapy like a four-wheel drive pickup truck. A therapist helps you understand the power in the rear wheels that pushed you to this point. Then, they help you figure out how to power the front wheels that will direct you forward where you need to go. And through it all, you’re in the driver’s seat!
How to Choose a Therapist
Choosing a therapist is not “one-size-fits-all”. It can take thought and time to find your perfect fit. Many factors contribute to finding a “perfect fit” in your therapist, and can include traits like their age, culture and personality as well as a unique specialty. While it might seem overwhelming at first, it will benefit you in the long run. Consider the following when choosing a therapist:
What do you want to accomplish in therapy?
- When you and your therapist work together toward the same goals, your chances of making progress will be higher. A therapist can focus on areas of your life that impact your goals and help you make decisions that will lead to a better quality of life. And if a therapist isn’t sure they can help you with your goals, they can help direct you to someone who can.
Reach out to therapists who address your area of concern
- Everyone has different reasons for wanting or needing therapy. Luckily, there are therapists who can help with specific mental health conditions, like depression or anxiety. For example, some therapists specialize in family and domestic matters, while others may specialize in stress management. Getting specific with your search will help ensure the best match.
Get help in choosing the right therapist
- One of the most important things to pay attention to when you’re looking for a therapist is if they are within your insurance provider’s network. The good news is that there are several avenues to explore. You can:
- Work with your primary care doctor to get a referral
- Connect with your community, and ask your family, your friends, or even your pastor if they have recommendations
- Find a therapist through the Blueprint portal using your membership card. We have great psychotherapists in the Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield Networks who have good credentials and active state licensure.
- Consider teletherapy if you are interested in virtual visits
- Talk to Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield case managers
- Use your employer’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for additional support
Finding the right therapist for you can take time. Finding someone qualified is just the first step. It’s important to find a therapist with whom you can build a rapport. Often, you may want to “try out” a few therapists to find the one you feel most comfortable with. Trust your gut, if you don’t feel good around them, try someone else.
Supporting Arkansans’ Mental Health
Here at Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, we know that health is influenced by many interconnected factors – including emotional health and wellbeing. That’s why we take a whole person approach to health. By understanding how all these factors are connected, we can develop programs and support partnerships that make a difference in our communities. Taking good care of your mental health is important when trying to achieve whole person health.
We also understand that when it comes to mental health, it can be difficult to ask for help or know where to start. This is why we’re working to Normalize the Conversation around mental health in Arkansas, and empowering members to Take Good Care of their whole person health. We’re providing online educational resources and investing in tools that help eliminate the stigma surrounding mental healthcare so we can make care more accessible to all Arkansans.