How do you know when you need to get help


“Let’s take care of it,” my 93-year-old Dad likes to say when a challenge comes along. Those words, along with his encouragement, motivated me to meet many challenges over the years. Like most folks of the Greatest Generation, my World War II veteran father did much, propelled by a combination of optimistic perseverance and a sense of deep responsibility. He will always have my gratitude and respect for modeling these admirable traits, common to people of the Upper Peninsula.

We yoopers tend to be fiercely self-reliant. My father could (and I occasionally think he should) hire work done around his home yet he insists on doing much of it himself, because it is his nature to do so, and he makes it his mission. HIs independent approach usually turns out fine, but some situations require more help. When the boiler recently needed replacing, for example, my Dad admitted the project was beyond his capacity to tackle himself, so he hired a professional.

Mental health is an area where a do-it-yourself approach can produce good results. For example, our mental wellness improves if we practice healthy living. Eating or drinking too much added sugar can increase the risk for depression. Exercise is linked to lower anxiety and better mood. Limiting food intake to what our bodies need and choosing foods with the best nutrition per calorie also improves our mental fitness. Also helpful to our minds and moods is positive social connections, stress management, regular good sleep, and living with a sense of mission and a purpose.

A big part of our mental wellbeing comes from choices we make. However, if mood or thinking problems block us from functioning at our best, and if our do-it-yourself efforts are not working, or if we feel stuck, then it might be time to get help from a professional. A primary care doctor or advance practice nurse can help clarify a mood or cognitive problem, rule out various medical issues that may be a part of the problem, and help create a plan. Sometimes they prescribe medications, and sometimes they recommend seeing a mental health professional for psychotherapy. Serious mood or thinking problems respond best to a combination treatment.

Copper Country Mental Health serves Baraga, Houghton, Keweenaw, and Ontonagon counties with a full range of professional mental health services for all ages. Call 906-482-9404 for more information. Available upon request is a list of additional providers offering mental health services in the Copper Country.

Getting help for a mental health problem may take some time and effort until the most effective plan for an individual is developed. Friends and family can promote recovery with a “let’s take care of it” approach, giving encouragement and support along the way. Eventually, most people can successfully meet a mental health challenge with a combination of resolve and support to empower them to live with renewed purpose and meaning.

Brian D. Rendel, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is a nationally board certified licensed professional counselor and Training and Prevention Coordinator at Copper Country Mental Health Institute in Houghton, Michigan.