5 Tips for Getting the Best Mental Health Care
Oftentimes, it's your phone that knows you need help before anyone else. A patient may ask Siri or Google "find a psychiatrist near me" and hope for the best. But while your phone will deliver what you asked for in the literal sense; the "closest psychiatrist near me", you may not be getting the compassionate, knowledgeable psychiatrist you need. Instead, you'll be getting the psychiatrist who has the best SEO optimization.
So what do you need to look for if you're looking for a psychiatrist? Here are 5 tips to follow.
Tip 1: Start with a Search Engine and the Terms "Psychiatrist Near Me"
Starting any search for a mental health provider usually starts online with the search terms "psychiatrist near me". Consistency in mental health care is important, so finding care that is convenient to get to is important. You can narrow down your search to by adding your city or zip code to the search query.
We also recommend you search a psychiatry-specific search engine like Psychology Today. Not only can you find a provider in your zip code, but you can also include variables like your insurance, specialties like major depressive disorder, ADHD or burnout, and other mental health conditions you may be concerned about to the search.
Psychology Today is also helpful in ensuring that mental health care is affordable. While many practices claim to accept most insurance plans, individual providers within a clinic may not be in-network with every insurance plan. So a site like Psychology Today can save time by ensuring that your provider is in-network before starting treatment.
Tip 2: Ask for Recommendations
Another great way to find a mental health care provider near you is to ask for recommendations. You can ask your primary care doctor, your therapist, or your friends and family if they know of any good psychiatrists or psychiatric nurse practitioners in your area. This is a great way to get personal recommendations and find a provider that has been recommended by someone you trust.
Google reviews are also a good source of information about a practice. It's notoriously hard to get customer reviews for any product or service, but especially so for mental health. Read through a practices' reviews to get a better sense of what current patients like about the practice and see if there is alignment with what you're looking for.
Tip 3: Check with Your Insurance Company
If you have health insurance, you can check with your insurance company to see which psychiatric or mental health care providers are covered by your plan. Most insurance companies have a list of providers that they cover, so this can be a great way to find a provider near you that is covered by your insurance and has openings. You can also find out what your copay will be for each visit, which can help you budget for your mental health care. Luckily, recent laws require that your insurance company cover mental health services just like any other health condition, and no referral is often needed to schedule an appointment with a provider. It's important to confirm with the practice as well which providers are covered by your specific insurance, as not all providers in a practice may be in-network with the insurance plan.
Tip 4: Research the Providers on Your List
Once you have the "psychiatrist near me" list in your area, it's time to start researching them. Visit their websites to learn more about their specialties, education, and experience. You can also check their online reviews to see what other patients have said about their experiences with the provider. Most offices will welcome your phone call and the support staff will be able to answer basic questions for you. This can help you narrow down your list to the providers that seem like the best fit for you. Be sure to pay attention to the culture of the practice. Is it holistic/integrative, are in-person visits available, is it a small practice or part of a major health system/corporation? If you wouldn't trust your pet to be treated by a veterinarian who is owned by a big VC-funded corporation, you may want to try to find a smaller practice for your mental health. The reality is that corporate-run mental health clinics put their investors' interests before patients' interests in the name of profitability and may not help you achieve your mental health goals. One mental health clinic left its patients, who were suffering from severe depression, PTSD and chronic pain, blindsided when it suddenly shuttered all 13 of its clinics across multiple states without any advanced warning. Smaller, provider-owned clinics can afford to provide more personalized treatment than large, venture-backed conglomerates.
Tip 5: Schedule Your Intake Appointment
After you've narrowed down your "psychiatrists near me" list of potential mental health care providers, and decided on the best fit for you, it’s time to schedule the first appointment. This should be at least a 60-minute appointment and an opportunity for the psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner to learn your medical and psychiatric history. Come prepared with questions, a list of current and past medications, side effects and responses to those medications, and goals for your mental health. This will be a very different process than what you normally get from a primary care physician, which is typically 15 minutes and a prescription. When tailoring a treatment plan, it's important to understand what is realistic for your lifestyle, your beliefs, your medical history, and the issues you want to resolve. Understand that mental health conditions that are complex and multidimensional may require a combination of approaches to resolve.
Your Mental Health Matters
All too often, we find patients who didn't think they needed a mental health specialist because it wasn't "bad enough". It's important to realize that you don't need to needlessly suffer in order to get the help you need. Oftentimes, solving a minor mental health problem quickly prevents it from festering into a much more complex, harder-to-treat concern. We see this often with low-grade depression that balloons into major depressive disorder and suicidality later on. In conclusion, finding a mental health care provider near you can be a daunting task, but a worthwhile endeavor. We hope these tips and tricks give you better options for providers than what your search for a "psychiatrist near me" returns!