Your First Steps
This page is intended to act as a guide to those navigating mental health systems– aiming to have you better prepared as you begin your path toward healing.
Here you will find definitions and insights to help you better understand options for treatment.
Signs and symptoms to look for
- Excessive worrying or fear
- Feeling excessively sad or low
- Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
- Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
- Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
- Avoiding friends and social activities
- Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
- Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
- Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
- Changes in sex drive
- Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don’t exist in objective reality)
- Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality (”lack of insight” or anosognosia)
- Overuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
- Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
- Thinking about suicide
- Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
- An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance
Not all emergency rooms have a psychiatrist on staff
Before you head to the Emergency Room, make a call to see if the facility is equipped to handle a psychiatric emergency. If not, ask for recommendations of where to go.
Not all therapists or psychiatrists accept insurance
However, they will provide a receipt to submit to your insurance. Check with your insurance provider to understand your coverage and request a list of in-network providers. Make sure you get a receipt marked, “paid” with an ICD-10 code, signed by the physician. Make a copy for your records before submitting as well.
Understand your insurance coverage
Speak with your insurance provider to better understand your coverage. Request a list of in-network providers. Ask about the process of submitting claims for out-of-network reimbursements, specifically what your insurance provider requires in terms of documentation (ICD-10 codes, receipts, etc.). Bring forms to all appointments, make sure they are signed and dated, with receipts for each visit. Make copies of all receipts before you submit them.
Apply for medical assistance
In PA, most children under age 19 and with serious emotional and behavioral concerns qualify for services covered by medical assistance, regardless of family income.
Genetic testing is available
Many companies, like Genomind, offer testing that offers insight into which medications work best with your DNA. Check out this link.
Child over 18? Understand how things change
To ensure you are able to continue having access to your child’s medical and financial information, it is important that you have the following three specific legal documents in place. When your child turns 18, consider having these documents drafted by an attorney. You do not have the right to their information, under the law, if you do not have these in place.
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