How to Select a Doctor

The key to managing your mental health condition is a strong partnership with your healthcare providers, one of which is likely a physician. Two things are essential in this partnership: that you be open and honest with your doctor, and that your doctor meet your needs and expectations. 

Ask yourself these important questions to find out whether your doctor is doing their part. If you feel they’re not, talk to them about your concerns, and don’t be afraid to begin looking for another doctor who may be a better fit for you. 

Is your doctor:

Competent at prescribing and monitoring the proper use of medications?

Your doctor should do a thorough medical evaluation with you before prescribing any medications. Make sure your doctor knows about any other medications you’re taking or other health conditions you have. Your doctor needs to know that kind of information, especially before prescribing a drug, as it may interfere with the drug’s safety or how well it works.

Willing to explore treatment options to find the best fit for you?

No single approach to treatment is perfect for everyone. With medication, you need to work with your doctor to balance the side effects of some drugs against their effectiveness. With psychotherapy, some people benefit most from a support group setting while others prefer one-on-one therapy. Your doctor must work with you to find the best option for you and monitor how well the treatment works over time, in case you need to make a change.

Comfortable with you seeking a second opinion about treatment?

Because your experience with a mental health condition is unique to you, you may want to get advice from more than one physician. Your doctor should recognize this and be supportive of your decision. He or she should also work with you to think over the therapies recommended by other physicians. 

Treating you as a whole person?

Because they affect your thoughts and behaviors, mental health conditions impact your personal development, your relationships, your employment and almost every other aspect of your life. Many mental health conditions are linked with an increased risk for other problems, such as substance abuse, eating disorders and suicide. Your doctor should recognize when you may need other treatments, including psychotherapy, for any related conditions.

Understanding and caring?

Your most important goal is to receive the right treatment as soon as possible. If your physician, no matter how apparently qualified, seems not to listen to you or take a genuine interest in your recovery, he or she may not be the right doctor for you. You should not hesitate to look for another doctor.

Ready to work with your family and friends?

While not everyone relies on the support of family and friends, when possible, it can be an important part of treatment. Your doctor should be willing to help educate those closest to you about your mental health condition and explain what they can do to help you manage it.