This past week I read a statistic that stated only 7% of all Americans who have mental health care coverage through their health insurance plan use it. That means 93% of us are skipping out on available mental health care!
Let’s think about this–
Every year we schedule our annual checkup at the doctor’s office. Every 6 months we schedule our dental checkups. Every several thousand miles we take the car in for an oil change. Every spring and fall we have the heating and air conditioning company stop by to check the system. We make an appointment with the financial planner every year to ensure our money and accounts are in good working order. What do all these activities have in common? Preventive care! And we don’t give it a second thought when making those appointments because we realize the importance of catching a problem early.
The doctor says our blood pressure and cholesterol are a little high– adjust your diet, exercise more, and that should take care of it. The mechanic says we’re good today but will need new tires in the coming months. The dentist fixes a small cavity before it progresses into root canal territory. The financial planner suggests we shuffle some investments around to lower risk categories as we near retirement to minimize our risk. See what’s happening there? We’re addressing problem areas while they’re still easily managed, before they become huge burdens that take up lots of our time and energy and money.
What does this have to do with therapy?
The same can be done for our mental health. Let’s be honest– every single person (mental health professionals included!) has areas that could use some work and improvement. Do we all need serious, intensive mental health intervention? No. But we could all use a compassionate third party to bounce ideas off of, ask for advice, and bring our problems to discuss. And we can all stand to learn a few new coping skills, stress management tips, strategies for dealing with difficult relationships, and ways to improve our lives in general.
The stigma of seeking mental health care can be hard to ignore, but it’s really no different than going to your family doctor for insulin to treat your diabetes or a prescription for your blood pressure. So you don’t know how to handle your periodic feelings of low self-esteem that have plagued you all your life? Ask for help from a trained professional. It’s no different than calling a plumber when the kitchen sink leaks (because you don’t know how to handle that either!).
Think about it. And next time you feel a little down in the dumps, angry at your family, irritated at your boss and co-workers, unsure about your purpose in life, generally lost and dissatisfied– find a mental health care professional. Then call and schedule an appointment to talk and figure it out. You’ll be glad you took a positive step towards preventive care!
If you’re curious about how music therapy might fit into your preventive care, contact me anytime. I’m always happy to answer questions!