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By: Lakshmi Mahadevan, Ph.D.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2021, an estimated 57.8 million adults (or more than one in five US adults) experienced some form of mental illness. However, only 47.2% received mental health services. As we recognize Mental Health Awareness Month in May we ask that you promote your own mental well-being through self-care. However, awareness also implies knowing when to decide on finding and receiving appropriate professional help.

Is it time to seek professional help?

Trauma lies in the eyes of the beholder and your experiences may vary, but in general we ask you to think about professional help, if:

  1. You feel upset or stressed for many days in a row.
  2. Your reactivity to stressors seems heightened.
  3. Everything just seems just a tad more difficult or even unsurmountable for an extended period of time.
  4. It just seems more and more difficult to “bounce back”, and
  5. All your regular self-help strategies do not seem to help or at least not to the same extent.

8 Tips for Seeking Appropriate Professional Help

Once you feel that it’s time, awareness also means that you know how to seek appropriate professional help. Here are some tips:

  1. Understand what therapies are available and what may be best for you.
  2. If you feel comfortable enough, ask a friend or family member for recommendations.
  3. Look up your local hospital’s website and search for doctors who specialize in Psychology and/or Psychiatry – note many hospitals now offer virtual consults.
  4. If you work for an organization that offers employee assistance programs – consider getting an appointment. These services are free and often available to retirees and/or dependents.
  5. Contact your local social service provider for referrals or guidance.
  6. If seeking treatment or help for mental and/or substance use disorders utilize authentic sources such as or
  7. Access Psychology Today’s “Find a Therapist” option and search by city, zip code, name or even practice type.
  8. Add the following numbers into your cell phone contacts list:
    • National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
    • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 800-273-TALK (8255)
    • Suicide & Crisis Lifeline – 988
    • Veterans Crisis Line – 988 – then press 1
    • Text message: 435748 (HELP4U) OR 741741

What is mental health awareness?

A – You are not ALONE.

W – Know WHEN to reach out.

AAPPROPRIATE help is available.

R – Ask for RECOMMENDATIONS from trusted peers.

EEVERYONE has the right to better mental health.