You are not alone. There is help.
If you are in a crisis, please call Calgary’s Distress Centre (free 24/7 crisis line) 403-266-HELP (4357)
(TTY for the hearing impaired: 403-543-1967)
Teen line (ConnecTeen 24-hr support line) 403-264-TEEN (8336)
If you do not live in Calgary, AB, please call Kids Help Phone (24/7 support line) 1-800-668-6868
Types of Support
There are different types of support for someone experiencing a mental illness, and the best treatment varies from person to person. Many people find a combination of approaches works better than just one.
Treatments your doctor might prescribe could include one or more of the following:
- Counselling or psychotherapy
- Healthy lifestyle choices
Medication can be very important in treating certain mental illnesses. Since we are each different, a treatment might not work the same way for you as it would for someone else. If you need to take medication for mental health support, you might have to try different medications until you find the right “fit.” It’s also important to remember even the right medication can take some time to stabilize a mental illness. While it can seem frustrating, it’s worthwhile to find the right medication that works for you.
Counselling or Psychotherapy
Counselling and psychotherapy can be very valuable in a mental health treatment program. There are different professionals and healthcare workers who can provide psychotherapy and/or counselling.
Counsellors can provide support, resources and assistance to people who need help making positive changes or informed choices in their lives. Counsellors assist people to better understand themselves by explaining options, and helping people to set goals and take action. They will first spend time talking with you to help get a clear idea of the problem and to determine what options are available. Then they will help you decide the best course of action.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialise in mental health. Psychiatrists may diagnose, prescribe medications and provide psychotherapy for people with a mental illness. A family doctor’s referral is usually required for psychiatric assessment and therapy.
Psychologists can provide psychotherapies (treatment of mental illness through psychological means), such as cognitive therapy (helps patients learn to effectively change their thinking, feelings and behaviour). Psychologists work on a broad range of issues and often specialize in a particular type of psychology, but do not prescribe medications. Therapy may address specific forms of diagnosable mental illness, everyday problems in our personal lives and relationships or in meeting personal goals.
Social workers help people deal with personal and social problems in a one-on-one setting or through programs that benefit groups or communities.
Healthy Lifestyle Choices
Healthy lifestyle choices can improve our mental health, but they should not be used as a substitute for a doctor or other professional diagnosis or treatment. Many people find a combination of strategies most helpful.
Self-Help Groups. In these groups people in similar situations can share their own experience, tools they use to manage their mental health issue and can support one another.
Dietician or Naturopathic Medicine. Nutritional counselling can provide education on healthy food choices and a balanced diet to improve overall health, including mental health. Naturopathic practice emphasizes the body’s potential to heal itself and focuses on prevention and balance. Practitioners can provide options and education about natural ways to heal the body.
Physical Exercise. Exercise enhances mood and improves overall health. Physical exercise can include anything from running, walking, swimming, biking, sports or yoga.
Meditation. Some people find meditation helps with stress relief and improved focus. Mindfulness meditation (focusing on the present, not allowing the mind to wander) has been found to be very helpful for people who experience a variety of mental illnesses.
Spirituality Exploring one’s spiritual options through a faith leader or local faith community can provide an individual with additional support and purpose in their lives.
Where to Get Help
Talk to Your Doctor. The first step to accessing help begins by visiting your family doctor. Talking to a doctor as soon as possible about any mental health concern can help clarify support options and determine, or rule out, any physical causes for mental health issues.
If you don’t have a regular family doctor, there are other options available for accessing mental health professionals: check out our list of programs, phone numbers, drop-in centres, and websites to find the help you need.
Remember, mental health issues are treatable, so asking for help is a critical step towards good mental health. Health-care professionals can work with you to determine the issue and prescribe the best solutions.