In the vein of figuring out what life is all about in this world, it sometimes helps to have “cheat sheets.” Financial planners do this, programmers do this, managers do this, engineers all do this to help them remember important things about their world, their lives, whatever. Without further ado then, here’s the list:

  1. Mental health treatment is most effective (e.g., makes you feel better sooner) when your care is holistic in nature and provided by a multidisciplinary team of treatment providers (e.g., a therapist, a medical doctor, and others as needed).
  2. Your mental health has a direct and measurable impact on your physical health and overall well-being.
  3. Knowing and learning more about yourself is the best investment you can make today. If knowledge is power, self-knowledge is the ultimate power.
  4. Our understanding of the mind today is at approximately the same place as a doctor’s understanding of the heart was 200 years ago.
  5. The first professional you go to for treatment is often not the one you will receive treatment from (nor should it be). You may need to “shop around” to find a professional that fits your needs and expectations of care.
  6. Your doctor or therapist doesn’t know everything about your condition or the best treatment for you. You may know more than he or she does (especially if you’ve been living with the condition for a long time, or the condition is rare).
  7. Your mental health treatment is more often than not based upon trial and error.
  8. Most psychotherapists in the real world do not usually provide treatment to people based upon research findings (e.g., they are not providing “empirically-based treatment”). Psychotherapy research often uses rigorous “treatment protocols” that are rarely used in most clinicians’ practices.
  9. You may be your own best (but secret) treatment provider. By educating yourself, tracking or journaling your moods, what coping methods you use, etc., finding a support group, and such, you may actually be able to help yourself as much as many professionals can. Even if you can’t, you can provide your treatment provider with a lot of help and data that will help improve the efficacy of your overall treatment.
  10. Mental health care is not always affordable, timely, or easy to access. A lot of work needs to be done in order to make mental health care more affordable, available in a timely manner in every community, and without having to jump through a dozen hoops in order to receive the best care possible.