1. Ask about the assessment. One of the most essential interventions toward wellness is education, or “psychoeducation”. Ongoing knowledge about one’s health helps guide the process of recovery. It promotes a sense of action-oriented care, working toward goal fulfillment, and allows for better choices toward well-being. Taking an active role in your health care will make you feel more empowered, leading to better outcomes and allowing you to feel more confident that you are working together with your provider toward common goals.

2. Ask about the clinical work up. All things considered, one of the essential practices in Psychiatric assessment is to investigate any underlying or contributing factors that may cause or exacerbate the main issue. For example, thyroid disease may explain mood changes, vitamin deficiencies may explain memory problems, use of stimulating agents may be associated with anxiety. Routine physical exam and aboratory tests are always part of assessment consideration. A thorough history can provide clues toward further investigation.

3. Ask about treatment options. It is often assumed that standard Psychiatric intervention is a prescription for medication management. This is simply not so. Psychiatric counseling, or Psychotherapy, can provide the clarification needed for an individual to reassess life goals. Challenges in coping with illness, whether acute or chronic, can be a serious impediment to recovery. Psychotherapy may be on an individual or group basis, between the patient(s) and Psychiatrist. Emotional support and guidance can help work through these demands. The ultimate goal is working toward conflict resolution to improve one’s quality of living.

4. Ask about additional resources. Understanding the precipitants of mental illness and maintaining an ongoing quest to improve treatment options are essential to our communities. According to the Director of Policy & Legal Affairs at NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the movement to improve mental health care should be a national priority. NAMI offers a variety of educational tools for understanding mental illness, treatment, and recovery. Additional resources can be found on their website, nami.org.

5. Ask about the value of personal supports. Support can come from a variety of sources, such as friends, family, peers, etc. It’s important to remember that part of a healthy recovery is to avoid carrying the burden of your troubles alone. Support groups are widely available and can be of tremendous benefit. Self-help groups can increase self-esteem, reduce social stigma, and improve social functioning. The therapeutic effects of such support are attributed to feeling a sense of togetherness through community.