Tips for Talking With Your Health Care Provider

The National Institute for Mental Health shared that you shouldn’t wait for your health care provider to ask about your mental health. Start the conversation. Here are five tips to help prepare and guide you on how to talk to your health care provider about your mental health and get the most out of your visit.

1. Don’t know where to start for help? Talk to your primary care provider.

If you’re going to your primary care provider for other health concerns, remember to bring up your mental health concerns. Mental health is an integral part of health. Often, people with mental disorders can be at risk for other medical conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes. In many primary care settings now, you may be asked if you’re feeling anxious or depressed, or if you have had thoughts of suicide. Take this opportunity to talk to your primary care provider, who can help refer you to a mental health specialist. You also can visit the NIMH Find Help for Mental Illnesses webpage for help finding a health care provider or treatment.

2. Prepare ahead of your visit.

Health care providers have a limited amount of time for each appointment. Think of your questions or concerns beforehand, and write them down.

  • Prepare your questions. Make a list of what you want to discuss and any questions or concerns you might have. This worksheet can help you prepare your questions.
  • Prepare a list of your medications. It’s important to tell your health care provider about all the medications you’re taking, including over-the-counter (nonprescription) drugs, herbal remedies, vitamins, and supplements. This worksheet can help you track your medications.
  • Review your family history. Certain mental illnesses tend to run in families, and having a close relative with a mental disorder could mean you’re at a higher risk. Knowing your family’s mental health history can help you determine whether you are at a higher risk for certain disorders. It also can help your health care provider recommend actions for reducing your risk and enable both you and your provider to look for early warning signs.

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