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You’ve Been Diagnosed. Now What?

If you or someone you love has recently been affected by a mental health disorder or if you or a loved one has been recently diagnosed as having a mental illness, you may be feeling lost. What does this diagnosis mean for you or your loved one? What kinds of treatment options are there? You may be feeling overwhelmed, lost, or confused. Or maybe you are feeling sad or even like this diagnosis is a judgment about the kind of person you or your loved one is. (To be clear: a diagnosis of mental illness absolutely says nothing about the character of a person, but sometimes it can cause us to feel like we are defective in some way).

For all of these questions and feelings and more NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness is a great resource. NAMI is made up of individuals just like yourself: people who have a mental illness or who love someone with a mental illness. It is made up people from all walks of life rather than by mental health professionals. These people are living with mental health issues of their own or with family who have mental health issues. They understand and can guide others who are just beginning to navigate this new and foreign territory.

If you visit NAMI’s website, you’ll find that you can search for a local support group. I know, for instance, that NAMI offers a biweekly support group at my small, local hospital. You may find a group near you, as well. You’ll also find that NAMI offers around-the-clock support through their online message boards and crisis support via text and a weekday hotline. Mental health issues can cause you to feel very isolated and alone but with NAMI’s support, you can find light in a dark time.

NAMI’s website also includes information on warning signs of mental health problems and information on many diagnoses. The website includes information for all ages and is currently featuring a series “Someone who looks like me” and an article about growing up having a parent with bipolar disorder. NAMI also advocates for people who have mental health issues. This is important, because over the course of a lifetime, that’s a majority of us at one time or another. Taking action in their advocacy efforts may offer a sense of empowerment in a time when hopelessness seems overwhelming.

NAMI is a great resource for information and support on a wide range of mental health topics. Often times, the best treatment results for mental health issues occur when a person is receiving both medical treatment (medications) and therapy. If you are seeking a therapist, I invite you to give me a call at (816) 226-4678.

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