The tragic deaths of fashion designer Kate Spade and renowned chef Anthony Bourdain in early June brought the topics of suicide and mental health to the forefront of minds across America.

Heartbreakingly, their stories are unique only in Spade and Bourdain’s fame and prominence. Since 1999, the suicide rate in the United States has risen by more than 25 percent, and in 2016, nearly 45,000 Americans took their own lives, according to the most recent CDC study. That makes suicide the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.

But the catastrophic decision to take one’s own life is not a decision made overnight, and there’s a number far greater than the number of lives taken by suicide each year: the number of Americans suffering from depression, anxiety or any number of mental health concerns.

According to a survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in the last year alone, 29 million American women have dealt with a mental health-related disorder. That’s approximately 23 percent of the female population of the U.S. or nearly one in every four women in America!

So what can be done about it?

Whether you, yourself or someone you care about is dealing with mental health concerns, there are several options available for women seeking mental health care.

Know the signs

While the signs of mental health conditions vary, they often include prolonged depression; extreme anxiety; feelings of hopelessness; social withdrawal; a growing inability to cope with daily problems or situations; extreme influxes in emotions from happiness to sadness or anger; or significant changes in eating or sleeping habits.

If you notice someone you love or care about exhibiting signs of a mental health concern, encourage them to talk about it with you or to talk to a professional. Similarly, if you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms or if you are in any doubt of your own mental health, do not hesitate to open up to a trusted love one and take additional steps toward healing.

Talk to your primary care practitioner

For many, talking to a primary care practitioner can feel more comfortable than immediately seeking therapy or mental health care, and a primary care practitioner can be a beneficial first step. Your general physician should be able to complete a mental health screening, discuss your concerns and most importantly, refer you to licensed mental health specialists in the area. They may also be able to make a diagnosis or offer medication treatment options.

Find a mental health professional

While a primary care practitioner can be a good initial step and point you in the right direction, it is strongly recommended to seek additional help from a licensed mental health professional should mental health concerns continue. These mental health professionals may include psychologists, psychiatrists or counselors.

To find a mental health professional:

• consult your primary care practitioner for a list of referrals.

• request from your insurance company, or check their website for a list of providers who may be covered by your plan.

• consider affordable mental health services through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration by visiting https:// www.samhsa.gov/treatment.

• learn if you may be eligible to receive free or low-cost treatment and services from your local health department’s mental health division or from community mental health centers. These services are often state funded and available to individuals who meet certain criteria.

• look into online or texting therapy options that are often less expensive than standard therapy and can serve as a valuable starting point.

Seek support

Peer support groups can also provide a valuable resource in addition to therapy or treatment through a licensed mental health professional. Organizations including Mental Health America and the National Alliance on Mental Illness offer support groups throughout the U.S.

This piece by was first seen on ‘Pennsylvania Business Central‘, 22 June 2018. 

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