What Kind Of Mental Health Professional Do You Need? Types of mental health professionals

Mental illness is any disturbance in our emotional, behavioural perception, or learning ability. They are much milder than mental disorders. They are managed on an outpatient basis. Mental disorders are typically specific severe mental diseases like schizophrenia, autism, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Whereas, mental illness is a broader term. It includes mental distress, mental disorders, and psycho-social disabilities.

According to the World Health Organization, onein every eightpeople globally suffers from some mental illness. Anxiety and depressive disorders are the most common causes of mental illness.Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of anxiety cases rose by 26% and major depressive disorder cases by 28%. Despite the availability of effective prevention and treatment methods, many do not avail of these options. The fear of stigma and discrimination prevents them from asking for help.

Types Of Mental Health Professionals

Mental Health Therapist

Mental health or psychotherapistsprimarily treat their patients with psychotherapy – talk therapy. During the session, they learn about our condition, emotions, thoughts, and behaviours. With the help of psychotherapy, the therapist enables us to take control of our lives and situations. They suggest ways to respond to conflicts and cope with challenges. The root cause of the problem is identified and treated.

Mental illnesses that can be managed by a Mental Health Therapist

  1. Anxiety or stress – mild to moderate levels caused by personal or professional reasons

  2. Depression – mild to moderate cases, which do not need medication

  3. Relationship issues – conflicts with spouse or partner, parental conflicts, teen issues

  4. Coping with divorce, separation, or death of a loved one

  5. Anger issues – volatile temperament affecting relationships and work, aggressive behaviour, violent tendencies

  6. Chronic illnesses such as diabetes, and cancer

  7. Victims of sexual abuse, domestic violence, physical abuse

  8. Difficulty in falling asleep or frequent nightmares or disturbed sleep

  9. Addictions – alcohol, drugs, pornography

Clinical Psychologists

They work in similar areas as mental health therapists. They have expertise in behavioural issues. They can help us with relationship problems, parenting issues, teen issues, eating disorders, and panic disorders.

Mental Health Counsellors

Counsellors patiently listen to our problems. They help us analyse our situation. They have a problem-solving approach. They help us find a solution. They are experts in substance abuse, sexual abuse, marriage, and relationships, or family counselling.


They are medical graduates with a specialisation in psychiatric medicine. They manage conditions such as ADHD, autism, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and major depressive disorder. They are licensed to prescribe medications and admit and monitor patients when their condition needs constant supervision.

Some of the conditions managed by Psychiatristsare

  1. Anxiety Disorders- The person suffers from excess fear, worry and panic, leading to behavioural disturbances. Approximately 300 million people suffer from an anxiety disorder of which 58 million are children and adolescents. Some may suffer from generalized anxiety, panic attacks, social anxiety, or separation anxiety disorder.

  2. Depression- The person feels sad, irritable, empty, and has low self-worth. They are socially withdrawn. They avoid social interactions. Severe cases of depression need medication Some also need admission to a hospital if they have suicidal tendencies. These cases need to be managed by a psychiatrist. Around 300 million people suffer from depression globally.

  3. Bipolar Disorder- The person alternates between depressive episodes (sad, lonely, low self-esteem) and manic episodes (euphoria, high energy, high self-esteem). They are easily distracted and have impulsive reckless behaviour. They have an increased risk of suicide.

  4. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)- The person suffers from anxiety and panic after exposure to threatening or horrific events. They suffer from horrifying flashbacks and nightmares.

  5. Schizophrenia- The person suffers from delusions, hallucinations, disorganised thinking, and changes in behaviour. Their life expectancy is 10-20 years lower than the general population. Approximately 1 in 300 people globally suffer from Schizophrenia.

  6. Eating disorders- The person may suffer from Anorexia or Bulimia. Anorexics often die prematurely due to complications or suicide. Bulimics have a higher risk for substance.

  7. Neurodevelopmental disorders- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD, autism. The person suffers from behavioural issues and developmental issues. They need specialised treatment that includes medication, and speech therapy.

The different kinds of mental health providers can help us manage our problems and recover thoroughly. They work in hospitals, psychiatric facilities, community centres, clinics, and schools.

Finding the right mental health provider becomes easy if we understand their expertise and training. For instance, some specialise in family or divorce counselling, while others specialise in anxiety and behavioural issues. While choosing a professional, we should select licensed experts to provide mental health services. Your expert should have a license in the state they practice in.

Do I need help?

It is natural to feel sad or disappointed, so we often ignore a cry for help. We sleep it off and expect to feel all right the next day. So, how do we identify that we need help?

The signs and symptoms of mental illness can vary from person to person. This depends on their condition. Some of the signs of mental illness are as below:

  • Constantly feeling low or sad for days

  • Unable to think clearly and rationally

  • Feeling worried or scared

  • Extreme changes in moods – feeling very happy or very sad

  • Anger, irritation

  • Sleep issues

  • Feeling overwhelmed by our surroundings

  • Isolation from friends, colleagues

  • Changes in eating habits, sex drive

  • Excess alcohol consumption, drug abuse

  • Some mental issues can also manifest as physical problems like body ache, headache, and stomach ache with no underlying cause

  • In severe mental health conditions, one may suffer from hallucinations, delusions

Suffering one or two of the above symptoms alone can’t diagnose us as mental illness patients. To be cautious, we should proceed with further evaluation. If we are experiencing multiple symptoms that are hampering our daily activities, like work or school, we need to visit a mental health professional. Violent behavior and suicidal thoughts need immediate attention, and admission to a center is advisable.


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