Accessing timely mental healthcare can be challenging. While waiting to see a mental health professional, lean on support networks and seek emergency care if needed.
Seeking mental health treatment is a significant step toward improving one’s psychological well-being. However, the reality of long wait lists for therapy or psychiatric medication services can be challenging and discouraging. Encourage patients to get on a waitlist if they can’t get an appointment quickly for services. While waiting, it’s essential to adopt strategies that promote positive mental health.
Here a few things you can talk about with patients:
Self-care and stress management
During the wait, suggest patients prioritize self-care activities that enhance emotional well-being. This includes regular exercise, mindfulness meditation, and maintaining a balanced diet. Many apps are available that teach relaxation techniques and meditation.
Encourage patients to connect with friends, family, or support groups that can provide a listening ear. Engaging in open conversations about emotions can alleviate feelings of isolation and loneliness. Social support may decrease anxiety and depressive symptoms.
Adequate and restful sleep plays a large role in regulating mood, cognitive functioning, and resilience. Suggest patients establish and maintain consistent sleep and wake times, limit screen time before bed, keep the bedroom cool and dark, and avoid alcohol and stimulating activities close to bedtime.
Journaling and tracking mood
Documenting thoughts, emotions, and experiences can offer insights into a mental health journey and provide a sense of control. Journaling and tracking mood can give people greater awareness of mood, energizing activities, and triggers, allowing them to identify patterns and make informed decisions about well-being.
While waiting for mental health treatment, it’s crucial for patients to proactively manage psychological well-being. Incorporating self-care practices, building a support system, prioritizing sleep, and maintaining a mood journal can empower them to navigate this challenging period with resilience and hope. While the wait may be frustrating, these strategies can help patients build a strong foundation for their mental health journey and be prepared for productive therapy sessions.
This piece expresses the views solely of the author. It does not necessarily represent the views of any organization, including Johns Hopkins Medicine.