Aug 18, 2020

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Recognizing When You May Need to See a Mental Health Professional

Mental health issues impact one in five adults in the U.S. and up to 35% of American men are struggling with some sort of mental health condition. Despite its prevalence, it seems like men are unlikely to talk about their mental health with others.

Listener Ben first realized he was struggling with mental health issues roughly 10 years ago. Some big changes at work early in his career started making him feel like his life was getting out of control and unmanageable.

Ben was unaware of the extent of his trouble until his father approached him during a family dinner. He mentioned that Ben didn’t seem like the same person he used to be. This was Ben’s wake up call to seek professional help.

Ben’s entry into mental health services came through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that was included in his insurance plan. He learned that the service was created to be a short-term treatment with outcome-focused results. He called the number, made an appointment, and his handle on his mental health dramatically turned around.

Kevin Curtis is a licensed clinical social worker and one of Ben’s good friends. According to Kevin, it is pretty common for people to not realize there is a problem with their mental state until someone in their lives mentions something.

It can be extremely difficult to self diagnose mental health problems. "Most people can see when other people are not doing well," says Kevin. "But they are poor at judging when they aren’t doing well themselves." Even Kevin, as a therapist, uses a mental health professional to work through his troubles.

Building Your Mental Health Toolbox

Ben met with a licensed clinical therapist through the EAP program. He appreciated the objective outside perspective and the tools, techniques the therapist provided. After just a few sessions, Ben had the starting of what he calls his "Mental Health Toolbox." A set of techniques he uses to this very day.

In just a few short months Ben notes the marked improvement the therapist had on his life.

Kevin explains that it’s quite common for people to mistake mental health as something that is approached differently than physical health. When a person talks about typical physical health, they understand that there is a broad spectrum of the type of help available depending on the ailment. Primary care physician for maintenance. Specialists for specific issues. Emergency room for a crisis. But when most people think of mental health, they assume you only seek help during a crisis.

He likens this misconception to utilizing a financial planner. You don’t only go to a financial planner when you are in bankruptcy. It’s better to go to a planner before it’s an emergency so they can help set you up for success.

"It’s not what are the problems you are experiencing you want to solve," Kevin explains. It’s more a question of how could your life be better, and what are you willing to do to make it better?"

How to Find Help

If you feel you could use some professional help with your mental health, Kevin shares a few avenues you can use to find care.

  • Most people that are employed with insurance have some sort of EAP program included with their benefits. Reach out to your employer to find out what services are available to you.
  • For people without insurance, there are plenty of low-cost counseling services and organizations available.
  • Ask the licensed clinical social worker, therapist, or psychologist, if they use a "sliding scale." Many providers offer services at a cost that is relative to your financial situation. Asking that question should help you find help that won’t break the bank.

Listener Mail: Played with a Bat, Could I Have Rabies?

Troy received an email from a listener. Apparently this individual found a bat in the woods and played around with it. His family is now insisting he needs to go get a rabies shot, even if he wasn’t bitten. So he reached out to Dr. Madsen to ask what he should do.

Short answer: Better safe than sorry. There is no treatment for rabies, only a preventative shot. The series of shots are not the terrible ones you may have heard of that go into the stomach. The rabies vaccine goes right in the arm like any other injection.

Bats should not be played with. Rabies can be passed not only from a bat bite but from their saliva as well. The chance for infection is so serious, the CDC recommends you get a rabies shot if you wake up in the same room as a bat.

Additionally, it’s smart to avoid playing with wild animals, especially ones that eat meat. These creatures can be asymptomatic carriers that can transmit the disease to humans even if they don’t show any signs.


Odds and Ends

The Who Cares About Men’s Health 5K is on June 20. We encourage anyone who wants to join this virtual race and show support for Mitch as he gets closer to his goal of going from couch to 5K. The virtual race can be completed any way you’d like, whether it be running, biking, walking, skipping, whatever you can do to get in your physical activity that day.

Troy shared a photo of him and his corgi in their race bibs to show support for Mitch and his goal of running a 5k. Visit our Facebook page to get your 5k race bib. Download and print the file so you’re ready for race day. Take a photo of yourself in the bib and post them to the Who Cares Facebook page or using the hashtag #WCAMH5k to show your support.

Just Going to Leave This Here

On this episode's Just Going to Leave This Here, Troy has finally joined social media and is afraid he won’t have any friends and Scot wishes he looked as cool as his shadow does when he runs.


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