Your first mental health appointment: What to expect

March 17, 2020

You might have a variety of reasons for making your first mental health appointment—whether it’s panic attacks that you can’t get under control or postpartum depression that keeps you from getting out of bed in the morning. Whatever the reason, you’ve decided to get help. If you’ve never seen a mental health professional, the idea of your first mental health appointment might be overwhelming. Here, we’ll try to help you understand what to expect so you can feel more comfortable about your first visit.

Every provider will have a different style, but most initial appointments will include these elements.

We’ll explain who we are and collaborate on expectations.

You need to understand the provider you’re working with since every provider will offer a different experience. Typically, your provider will explain a bit of their background, their availability to you, and your working relationship. There will be an opportunity here for you and your provider to develop a set of guidelines that you agree to, which will remain throughout your treatment.

Why did you come in?

We want to know why you’re here today. More specifically, what was the “last straw” that convinced you to make an appointment. Everyone has what we would consider a “baseline” level of functioning. At some time before you booked your first mental health appointment, the way you were functioning shifted to a point that was no longer tolerable. We must understand when that shift happened and (if you know) why it happened.

What is your typical day like?

We want to get a sense of how you live your daily life. How often do you go out with friends? Do you have friends? Do you have family nearby? How many hours are you sleeping at night? Do you exercise? and so many more.  Some people might find these questions personal and intrusive, but honestly, we want to get the best and most complete picture of you. Who better than you to paint that picture for us?

What’s your medical history?

Your medical history is comprehensive, but we’ll help narrow it down. We’ll need to know about any medical problems, allergies, and medications you’ve taken. Then, if you start medication for your mental health, we can safely recommend the right medication.  In addition, we’ll ask you some questions about your mental health treatment history and family history. We’ll also need to know if you have ever been hospitalized. In some cases, we might ask your permission to contact and collaborate with other providers you see.

How can we make you feel safe?

When you go to your first mental health appointment, there is a chance that you’ll feel that safety questions don’t relate to you or your circumstances. But we as professionals know that emotional problems and stress can potentially lead to unfamiliar or even unsafe thoughts. The most important thing about these questions is that you answer them honestly. When we discuss safety, we’ll make sure that we do everything we can to help you feel safe and assist you in making a plan in case a time arises when you don’t feel safe.

What can we do for you?

This is the part where you let us know what you hope to gain from your visits with us. This information is a crucial element of your treatment. Based on this, your provider may also have you fill out some scales or questionnaires that will help us track your progress.

Goals and treatment planning

We will obtain all the information we need, which could take more than one session. Then, you and your provider will work together to devise a treatment plan to help you reach your goals. Your provider will offer you various concepts that can be a part of your treatment plan, including therapies and modalities that we’ll work on routinely, and possibly medications.

Feedback

Providing feedback to your clinician is an integral part of the treatment process, both at your first mental health appointment and along the way. We know every patient is unique and will adapt our skills and style for your treatment to be the most successful.

About Talkiatry

Talkiatry is a local, accessible and complete mental healthcare solution that accepts insurance. We close the gap for individuals who want to get better but feel that mental health care has been challenging to navigate up until this point and want a more convenient way to take the first step. Talkiatry takes the traditional local mental health visit and combines it with technology, scale, efficiency, and design to provide the best possible environment for healing.

At Talkiatry, we have a talented team of psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners ready to collaborate with you and provide warm and empathic treatment to make your first mental health appointment a breeze. Meet our team of providers.

Talkiatry is a mental health practice, and our clinicians review everything we write. However, articles are never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you think you may need mental health help, talk to a psychiatrist. If you or someone you know may be in danger, call 911 or the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 right away.

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