It is a simple fact that talking to any medical professional about your mental health is extremely challenging. You are faced with a stranger, someone you have no experience of, no idea as to whether they are supportive of mental health patients – and now you have to tell them your innermost thoughts and fears.
The situation as described above is undeniably delicate, yet it is one that many people find themselves having to go through. If you move home, or your existing doctor retires, then you may find yourself experiencing the issue anew yourself – and if you do, the thoughts below may help you to ensure the process is as smooth, simple, and effective as it can possibly be.
Take a friend or family member to your first appointment
Talking to a medical professional about mental health can be incredibly challenging, especially if you are going through a low period. To ensure you have the support you need, ask a friend or family member to attend the first appointment with you. This ensures you will have a friendly, familiar face in the room and are thus more likely to feel comfortable discussing the issues you are experiencing.
Ask your new doctor to read your records
Thanks to tech solutions such as cloud-based EHR, your new doctor should have access to your medical records the moment you meet them. Rather than trying to explain a complex mental health history, you can simply request that they take a moment to read through your records for themselves. This ensures that your new doctor is able to glean a doctors-eye-view insight into your mental health, which means they will be all the more likely to pick things up quickly and follow a similar route to your previous doctor.
Have clear expectations in mind
When going into the appointment, it’s helpful to know what you are hoping the outcome will be – for example, a change of medication or referral for therapy. If you have a clear idea of what you are hoping for, you can focus on this and use it to shape the conversation.
Be prepared to seek a second opinion
Unfortunately, some primary care physicians are not particularly well-trained in assisting those with mental health conditions. As a result, it is important to be prepared to seek a second opinion if the appointment does not go as you hope. See the first appointment with a new doctor almost as an audition; you are meeting with them to see if they are a suitable choice as your doctor, rather than you already having accepted that they are your doctor and thus being bound by their decisions. If they show signs of not being particularly well-versed in mental health matters, thank them for their time, and seek a second opinion – this can be inconvenient, but it is preferable to trying to obtain treatment with a doctor who is unsuitable for your specific needs.
Talking to a new doctor about mental health problems is undeniably difficult, but hopefully, the tips above should ensure you will feel confident in navigating the process.