How to Find a Mental Health Doctor

1.

Ask friends, relatives or peers about psychiatrists or psychologists in your area. When they offer recommendations, ask for specifics: Why do they like this doctor? What is his treatment style? Does he accept insurance, or does he require individual payment? Getting information from people you trust is always a good option when looking for any healthcare provider, but especially for one who will work with you closely to help you improve your mental health.

2.

Use resources from your employer or insurance company. Many employers offer mental health or counseling services or referrals as part of a health benefit package. Ask your human resources representative if your employer offers access to an employee assistance program. Such programs offer referrals, mental health resources, provider directories and, depending on the problem, free short-term counseling. Also, check with your insurance company about its mental health benefit - are mental health doctors in your in-network provider directory? Contact your insurance company through its web site or on the number listed on your insurance card.

3.

Take advantage of government, professional and patient organization resources. The National Institutes of Health offers a robust directory of health care providers in every medical discipline. The directory includes links to find nationally registered psychologists as well as adult, child and adolescent psychiatrists. There are also links available to professional groups, such as the American Psychiatric Association and American Psychological Association. Patient groups are another excellent resource; check directories maintained by groups such as Mental Health America or the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.

4.

Think about what kind of mental health doctor you would like as you review these resources. Does your mental health problem affect you physically? Would you prefer a medical doctor (psychiatrist) or a Ph.D.-trained counselor (psychologist)? Both are mental health doctors and can help you, but each type of doctor offers a different approach.

5.

Schedule an initial appointment with a few of your choices once you have narrowed down the list of mental health doctors. Interviewing potential mental health doctors can help you find one that will work best with your personality and treatment preferences in order to improve and maintain your health.

Finding a mental health doctor is a multi-step process, but an easy one to accomplish. Because treatment for mental health problems is very personal, it is important to find a doctor whose personality and treatment methods appeal to you. Asking friends, relatives and peers; conducting research through government, professional and patient advocacy organizations; and using resources from your employer or insurance company will enable you to find local mental health doctors.