How You Can Seek Mental Health Counseling in NC

How You Can Seek Mental Health Counseling in NC

COVID-19 has led to a major disruption in how North Carolinians live their lives. Our collective mental health (with disrupted counseling for many in NC) is under massive strain. We worry about catching and spreading the virus, the health of family and friends, potential job loss, and economic recovery.

And coming on top of these stresses are the holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas can be stressful enough on their own. Throwing a pandemic into the mix can make things that much worse.

Now more than ever, it’s important for people to maintain their mental health. If you need mental health counseling, here are two tips for finding help in NC.

mental health resources in NC
Image courtesy of Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash.

Choosing Your Preferred Provider and Treatment

You should consider two factors when picking a provider, according to the Mayo Clinic: your exact condition and the treatment methods you want.

The Mayo Clinic lists six types of mental health providers. Patients can seek treatment from a psychiatrist, psychologist, physician assistant, licensed clinical social worker, licensed professional counselor, or psychiatric mental health nurse.

Out of that group, only psychiatrists and physician assistants can prescribe medication. Meanwhile, only psychiatric mental health nurses can’t diagnose and treat mental health conditions.

Sometimes, treatment from multiple providers can better help you as a patient than treatment from just one. One provider can treat a patient with counseling, while a psychiatrist or physician assistant can manage their medication.

How do patients receive treatment?

There are two main options: in-person meetings or virtual meetings.

It has become more common during the pandemic for providers and patients to use telehealth services. Mental health treatment in North Carolina is going through “a sea change” this year, according to North Carolina Health News.

mental health resources in NC
Image courtesy of Mary Eineman on Unsplash.

We’ve seen that transition in on-the-ground reports from health care systems. Novant Health, for instance, owns and operates hospitals and facilities in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. It had to make a quick transition to virtual visits.

Maripat Moore works at a Novant practice near Winston-Salem. She said in that NC Health story that she started treating patients through telehealth in mid-March. Patients needed time to get comfortable with the change, she said.

“They were actually happy that they could stay home and still be seen,” Moore said. 

The Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) in Asheville reported a large jump in requests for telehealth visits. Shane Lunsford is the administrative director for the practice’s psychiatry department. He said MAHEC went from about 100 digital appointments per month to about 200 per day.

“People were afraid to go into the clinics and clinicians were guiding people away from the clinics to limit exposure,” Lunsford told NC Health News.

What You Should Know About Mental Health Counseling Options in NC

The options exist, clearly. And as we’ve seen in the example of Novant Health, providers have adapted to reach patients however that they can. So, now that you know that care is waiting for you, take your first steps: reach out to a provider and discuss what your best treatment could look like.

Not to mention that your mental health resources should likely include a larger community of people struggling through the same circumstances. We could recommend In The Rooms for its virtual support meetings, but there are other options as well. What’s most important? Taking your first step, because you can find health resources to help.