Mental Health Monday: Protecting your mental health

Original Reporting

(WSPA) – As part of the “Mental Health Monday” series, 7 News has looked at police response to people in a mental health crisis, and followed frontline hospital workers as they cope with the stress of the pandemic.

Now, the series is a little more personal. It’s focused on YOU!

How do you know when it’s time to talk to a mental health professional? What can you expect if you do?

Its not as complicated as it may sound. In most cases, it’s a quiet, confidential, non-judgemental conversation.

“You’re not committing to anything except: I want to come in and talk to somebody and see where I stand and what may be available to me,” said Crystal Barrs of the SC Department of Mental Health.

Most meetings at DMH begin with a therapist and a conversation. Usually it lasts about an hour. It’s so easy, the state now promises to see most new patients within a week of first contact.

People often get concerned that they’re going to say the traditional things like ‘yeah I’ve got some problems going on, I’ve got some stress but I don’t want the people around me to look at me differently or to think I’m crazy’,” Barrs said.

For school kids, finding help can be even easier. There’s a trained therapist in every Greenville County school. They treat the kids, their teachers, and even parents if they ask.

The asking is usually the hardest part.

Christopher Haines, a child therapist with SC DMH said, “Nobody wants to admit that they’re going through difficulty, especially to someone they don’t know. They worry about being judged. I want you to know that when you call a therapist they’re not here to judge you or label you they’re here to help.”

The real key is knowing you need help, not necessarily inpatient care or medication. Just a place to go with stress or trauma, anxiety or sadness that interferes with daily life.

For people who, lately, have more bad days than good.

“Everybody has good days and bad days right? Just because I have a bad day doesn’t mean I have to seek care, but if I find myself having more bad days than good days, if I’m feeling sad more frequently than not, feeling anxious more frequently than not,” said SC DMH Deputy Director Deborah Blalock.

One easy way to get started is to use this statewide number for folks who feel anxious or depressed right now. It’s 1-844-SC-HOPES.

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