If people with mental illness engage in treatment, chances are they can have a fulfilling life.

To begin getting professional assistance, calling Mental Health America at 800-969-6642 will help locate the nearest mental health facility. Other resources can provide a guide to help, too, including…

  • School counselors
  • School guidance counselors
  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
  • Clergy-person
  • General practitioner (MD)
  • Mental health hotlines


Not everyone wants medication. Not everyone needs medication. It’s a very consequential decision. This is why, though general practitioners and nurse practitioners can prescribe medication for mental illness, it’s strongly recommended to let a psychiatrist decide, as they have specifically studied how to treat mental illness.

Psychiatrists should be certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and are licensed by the state in which they practice. There are additionally psychiatrists that specialize in treating children and adolescents.

Pharmaceutical medication sets the foundation for therapy by allowing us to entertain new outlooks. It makes people pliable, malleable, and otherwise receptive to the benefits of therapy. It makes things manageable enough for therapy to work. That doesn’t mean therapy will be easy. Especially in the beginning, it can be painful, but medication makes it less so. Medication by itself won’t heal you. It provides a more healthy base of mind to build upon through therapy and socialization

Part of the work involves allowing the doctor to find the right medication(s). This trial-and-error is fairly common. For instance, about one third to half of people with clinical depression don’t respond to the first antidepressant they’re given; but there are over 15 different antidepressants on the market, and over 20 medications that can augment the efficacy of them. New drugs are additionally being developed all the time.

For some people, it can take several months to find what works. Playing the guinea pig is never fun, but lots of people find themselves in that position, and those whom follow this protocol are much more satisfied with their life in the end. Don’t get discouraged!

After all, it’s our quality of life we’re talking about, our life. In this stage, let’s keep in mind our higher goals, and follow a course that will give us the greatest probability of fulfilling those goals.

Once those are achieved, aim higher! The stigma doesn’t have to negatively brand our potential.

Medication must be taken for an appreciable amount of time to fully know whether it helps or not. In…

  • Outpatient services, it’s typical to see a psychiatrist every four to six weeks
  • Acute care hospitals, psychiatrists tend to say that any change in medication must be given two months to work
  • A medium-term hospital, the opinion is to wait six months to a year

Here are a few reasons why medication might not work. The patient…

  • Isn’t openly honest to their doctor
    • Perhaps they want to deceive their caregiver into prescribing a certain drug
    • Maybe they don’t trust the institution
    • Embarrassment may be a cause
    • This includes not telling one’s psychiatrist that they’re prescribed a medication from another doctor
    • This can lead to an incorrect diagnosis
    • Particularly with sleep issues, it’s important to let one’s doctor know
  • Is using drugs or alcohol
    • Marijuana use can particularly cause issues
    • Even a few beers every now and then
  • Does not engage in therapy
    • Proper medication does not solve problems
  • Does not take the medication as prescribed
    • It could be that they don’t like how it feels at first
    • They might forget
    • They might be scared of it
  • Lives in an extremely stressful environment


Finally, we move on, understanding our role in medication determinants.

If possible, one should strive to see a clinical psychologist.

Here is a profile of the various therapists one can see:

  • Psychologists have an advanced degree in psychology, have worked for at least two years under supervision, and are also licensed by the state they practice in
    • Diagnose
    • Individual therapy
    • Group therapy
  • Professional Counselors have a master’s degree in psychology or a related study, and are licensed by the state
    • Diagnose
    • Individual counseling
    • Group counseling
  • Mental Health Counselors have been supervised for at least three years after earning a master’s degree, and are certified by the National Academy of Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselors
    • Diagnose
    • Individual counseling
    • Group counseling
  • Clinical Nurse Specialists are registered nurses have mental health training, are state licensed, and are certified
    • Diagnose
    • Individual counseling
    • Group counseling
  • Clinical Social Workers have master’s degrees in social work, are state-licensed, and may be part of the Academy of Certified Social Workers
    • Diagnose
    • Individual counseling
    • Group counseling
  • Certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors have been trained in drug abuse, and practice with a state license
    • Diagnose
    • Individual counseling
    • Group counseling
  • Pastoral Counselors train in clinical pastoral education therapy, and carry an American Association of Pastoral Counselors certificate
    • Diagnose
    • Individual counseling
    • Group counseling
  • Martial and Family Therapists have a master’s degree geared toward martial and family therapy, and operate with a state license
    • Diagnose
    • Individual counseling
    • Group counseling

The varying costs of different forms of therapy:

  • Private therapist/counselor/psychologist
    • Usually accepts some kind of private insurance, but with a copay still
    • Can cost hundreds of dollars per session
  • Public community mental health facility
    • Sliding scale fee, as low as $5
    • Fee remains the same when seen by psychiatrist, and if seen by a psychologist
  •  Hospitalization
    • When one is a danger to themself or to others
    • Usually acute hospitalization (15 days or fewer)
    • One spends almost to all of their time in hte hospital
    • For public hospitals, it is dependent on how much you can pay – from thousands of dollars to free
    • Private hospitals may accept one’s insurance, but the insurance may still require one to pay a deductible (amount of money paid before the insurance starts paying)
  • Partial hospitalization
    • One spends part of their day in the hospital, and part of the day outside
    • May be private or public, payment similar to that of full hospitalization (public may be free, private may cost a lot even with insurance)

Psychologists are more equipped to isolate issues at their core and help the patient let go of unhealthy modes of being. Therapists help, but they may tend to gloss over problems, telling the patient that they’re okay instead of uprooting the source of the issue. By no means are all therapists like this, however.

Also, the system is much more positive of recent. This means that recovery is being stressed much more these days, as opposed to just stability.

Therapy, particularly in this society, can be very painful to engage in, just as playing the guinea pig in finding the rights medication can be. It might take a long time to even understand how to open ourselves up, to trust another human being with our deepest insecurities. This is because our culture doesn’t place a healthy emphasis on revealing what troubles us deeply to other people. This is a sort of extreme version of our individualistic culture.

  • Individualism
    • American and European origin
    • Focus on the individual
      • Self-determination
      • Self-reliance
      • Forging an independent name for ourselves
      • Achieving by ourselves, in many manner
        • Scholarly
        • Employment
        • Income
        • Occupation
  • Collectivism
    • Asian origin
    • Focus on helping one’s familial system
      • Playing one’s part in the network
      • An intricate social net holds one up
      • Bringing honor to one’s family
      • Achieving in line with the social net

Individualism has been applied to almost every part of American society, as opposed to most of Western and Northern Europe, which has more embraced a progressive form of socialism.

Why is this? The answer could be a book in its own. But I’ll list a few main, overlapping points:

  • As the main superpower in the world, our government doesn’t sway nearly so easily
  • With power comes corruption
  • Our country was founded on ideals, not on practical ideas
  • Freedom has been harnessed to apply to economics
  • We have a high amount of nationalism
  • Our two-party system doesn’t allow for third parties, such as the Green Party or a part of Socialism, to exist
  • We haven’t had a war on our soil in a very long time, and not one with modern weapons. As such, we don’t realize how valuable it is to care for our fellow American.

So, our society is very loathe to support people with mental illness, as people more so view it as an individual defect, or even laziness. Humanism too often falls to irrelevant modes of freedom.

Back to therapy now.

Again, therapy is so necessary because it builds upon the receptivity laid down by medication. Medication by itself might do away with unhealthy thoughts and emotions, but it can’t create a suitable replacement on its own. Therapy guides the construction of a worldview that is more realistic, positive, and healthy by troubleshooting various situations.

Similarly as with medication, it may take time to find a therapist that one can work with well. That said, also similar to medication, it’s good to give a new therapist at least several sessions.

Psychotherapy: face-to-face dialogue

  • Behavioral therapy: biofeedback, stress management, and relaxation training to alter behavior and patterns of thought
  • Cognitive therapy: locates maladaptive thinking reflexes that create discomfort
  • Psychoanalysis: searches to unearth persisting unconscious drives which began in the distant past, and link them to the problems that the patient is having in the present

Apart from conventional, one-on-one, therapy, there are constructive ways for mentally ill people to initiate therapy without a therapist present.

Most estimates state that about a month of regularly completing an activity makes it a habit. Then, it’s almost second-nature.

The points in bold are my most effective activities.

  • Firstly, please save and print this harmful thinking habits sheet.
    • It includes ten fallacies of thought that many people fall victim to
    • A very talented professional introduced this sheet to me.
    • It was when I began challenging them that I gained a greater measure of peace.
  • Here’s another source, composed of twenty questions to ask oneself during bouts of negative thinking.
    • All of us get trapped in negativity at some point or other. This document, therefore, is relevant for anyone.
  • Art and music
    • From painting a picture to coloring in a mandala
    • Helps people better express their feelings
  • Pet therapy
    • Sometimes we just need to hold a cat or scratch behind a dog’s years to feel happy
    • People can secure therapy animals to circumvent many anti-pet rules of their housing
  • Family therapy
    • Fairly self-explanatory
    • The family comes together to troubleshoot issues and better harmonize
  • Group therapy
    • A therapist guides the group in discussing, and troubleshooting, the issues that the members are having
  • Exercising
    • Almost all data confirms that exercise promotes overall wellness
    • You only need a few things
      • A notebook and pen to track progress
      • A pair of gloves to prevent blisters
      • Two dumbbells
      • A bit of online searching
      • Asking someone you know about working out
      • Maybe a book
      • Maybe an app
        • I purchased one called Full Fitness for a few bucks
    • I work out five days a week
      • It began as a way to look tough
      • It offers a huge release
      • Starting my day in this manner unties the knotted mind-state that I oftentimes wake up with
      • I am now up to three standard routines
      • It’s something I’m grateful for becoming habituated to
  • Cinema therapy (English: watching movies)
    • Watching movies allows us to at once sit back and observe social interactions
    • One can become immersed without being afraid
    • I found that, during one intense period, horror movies were very therapeutic
    • These are my choice movies
    • That said, it is acting
  • Reading
    • Maybe discovering intriguing academic information in a textbook
    • Perhaps settling down with a fiction essay
    • I love mining databases for studies on various topics related to behavioral neuroscience and psychopharmacology
    • Reading offers a constructive outlet in similar manner to a movie
      • But it is definitely more engaging, and likely healthier
  • Learning
    • Quite a large subject!
    • This can be environment-specific
    • Oftentimes this involves listening to others speak
    • When we stop trying to improve ourselves, we begin to deteriorate
    • People have different amounts and kinds of knowledge
    • Following Rousseau, a highly influential Swiss philosopher during The Enlightenment, the only real difference in quality between people is differences in physical strength
  • Doing good deeds
    • In Hebrew, a mitzvah
    • Studies suggest this can improve out happiness just as much as self-indulging in a treat of some sort
    • Yet, good intention should be the focus
  • Having a conversation
    • A (more informal) talk with a close associate on an issue can give perspective
    • As stated elsewhere, other people offer different, oftentimes very valuable, viewpoints on various matters
  • Playing a game
    • Whether a board game or a video game, it’s crucial that we distract ourselves from our problems every now and then to properly deal with them
    • The subconscious may take a bit of time to reveal a  best course of action
    • Being Batman for a few hours gives me self-esteem, for isntance
  • Taking a warm bath or shower
    • Sometimes it just takes a temperature change to renew our efforts
  • Making food
    • Doing so with care and challenging oneself in this respect yields a creation to be proud of, and which can be shared with others!
  • Meditation
    • There are thousands of different meditations
    • It may take time to build up the patience
    • It takes two months of daily meditation for the maximum benefits to be had, similarly to medication
    • I meditate for 50 minutes per day
    • What better way to become mindful and peaceful than by directing one’s own chemistry to become so?
  • Growing plants
    • Tending to, and watching something physically grow through one’s efforts, offers a palpable metric of progress
  • Going to a play
    • Though more expensive than a movie, the atmosphere of a good play makes the cost worthwhile


Support includes a close, intimate group of people, family and friends, that can be called on at almost any hour for some direction and safe haven.

People with mental illness are people first. They are not to be defined by their illness. But isolation may confide being symptomatic. While isolated, one doesn’t have many, or any, friends to talk to and do things with. The support team are there to call upon when one is in this state.

In the beginning, one may feel that their support team is an artificial creation. It may seem as if the team is only present because they take pity on the affected individual – that there is no other connection. This was the story in my case. Yet over time, much more fluid relationships developed. Good friends are rarely made in an instant!

As comes up many times in this process, patience is necessary.

The support network should understand that, while symptomatic, one will mental illness may, without meaning to, act in a rude or careless manner. In recovery, people must learn, or re-learn, how to conduct themselves properly among other people. Support provides a crucial measure of security for someone who is otherwise very stressed. It lets the individual know that they are not alone. Members of a support team should ideally…

  • Be ethical people
  • Understand the manners by which mental illness can affect interpersonal communication
  • Genuinely care about the individual
  • Be non-judgmental
  • Help the person with mental illness build social skills
  • Offer to talk with the individual if they’re particularly stressed, even at odd hours
  • Gently offer to escort the individual out of their comfort zone at times
  • Invite the individual to group gatherings
  • Not expect any concrete reimbursement from the individual
  • Not pose any significant hazard to the individual’s well-being

It’s probably good to have at least three dedicated people on your team, if not five or six

Without support, the mentally ill are liable to consume themselves through the torture of isolation. The desire to socialize, to be part of a group, is a natural, human, healthy desire. Recovery from a mental illness isn’t just about taking medicine and talking about yourself to a social scientist. It’s about finding or re-discovering good will, and experiencing great satisfaction when we connect and share with other human beings. It’s about being happy with ourselves because other people care about us.

Sources: Dr. Paul Povinelli, Dr. Colin Dauria, Dr. David Burns, Eric Kunz (registered nurse), Mental Health America,