Black Mental Health

Should I Get a Psych Evaluation?

February 11, 2018

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

As we prepare for February, the start of Black History Month, I would like us to not only focus and celebrate on those in our community that have come before and paved the way and made monumental changes to our world and culture, but to pay tribute to them and their legacies, by considering how we can add to their legacies, create our own legacies, and build a life that is fulfilling for us and worthy of the sacrifices made for us.

Our history have shown that there is power in us. There is power in our blood, our skin, and our race. But oftentimes, we mistake having power and showing power as the absence of any weakness. This is simply not true. There is strength in recognizing that we need help; there is strength in asking for help when we need it. If we examine some of the influential figures in our culture and history, we recognize that they did not accomplish the things they set out to do alone. They may have been the face of the particular change they affected, but they had a community behind them. Examples of these figures include, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, whose wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King was also instrumental in the changes that he made to our world, and President Barack Obama, whose wife, Michelle Obama, was also instrumental in the changes he made to our world. In addition to their partners, there were communities of people behind them that helped to affect the visions that they had for our world. Within their strengths, they recognized that they needed aid to carry out their visions.

In our community, there is a tendency to equate needing assistance with weakness which causes us to suffer in silence unnecessarily. There is growth in understanding when we need help.

So, in February, build the courage to examine your lives to see if you are suffering alone needlessly. Are you feeling alone, depressed, isolated? Are you experiencing a lot of pain? Are you going through a traumatic experience? Do you just need someone to listen without judgement? Think about seeking out a therapist who can assist with all these things and more.

Examine your life and consider if you could receive help from a psychological evaluation to get you the assistance that you need.

What is a Psychological Evaluation?

A psychological evaluation (psych eval) is a series of tests conducted by a psychologist and is used to assess for psychological symptoms and disorders, and the results are used to determine an appropriate diagnosis which is used to create a treatment plan. It is important to recognize that the treatment does not have to be carried out by the psychologist who completed the evaluation. The results can be sent to a therapist that you are working with. The evaluation is not one that you prepare for and takes a few hours. Do not view the evaluation as a sign that something is wrong but rather as an opportunity to care for yourself and to invest in creating a healthier you.

Is There a Difference Between a Psychiatric Evaluation and a Psychological Evaluation?

A psychiatrist conducts a psychiatric evaluation. A psychologist conducts a psychological evaluation. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who prescribes medicine. A psychologist holds a doctorate degree but is not a medical doctor. Therefore, a psychiatric evaluation is considered a medical evaluation; the psychiatrist evaluates your mental health, makes a diagnosis and prescribes medicine if needed. Medicine can be used in combination with psychotherapy. A psychological evaluation also assesses for mental and emotional disorders and the psychologists can usually identify treatment options based on the results.

When Should I Get an Evaluation?

Remember that the focus is to have a healthier you. If you feel you need to talk to someone, do not hide from those thoughts. There is a path from thoughts ->behaviors ->habits. We all should be very vigilant about our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors because they have direct impacts on us and our lives. Reach out to a professional if you feel the need to.

Here are some signs that you may need to seek out a professional therapist or seek an evaluation.

  1. Drastic changes in behavior – whether the changes are extremely positive or extremely negative, they should be monitored; if the behaviors are outside of your norm, they should be examined.
  2. Extreme changes in mood.
  3. Anger or other emotions that appear to be uncontrollable or very volatile.
  4. Suicidal thoughts/ideations or suicidal attempts.
  5. Maladaptive coping behaviors such as cutting.
  6. Thoughts or feelings about harming others.
  7. Consistent physical pains that may not have a valid reason or a medical condition does not explain the full symptoms.
  8. Addictions – social media, sex, substances, money, etc.
  9. Inability to regulate one’s self, emotions, and behaviors.
  10. History of trauma – disaster, weather, assault, neglect, emotional, relational, etc.
  11. Changes in hygienic behaviors – when someone is no longer caring for their bodies.

If you feel that you are dealing with any of these issues or anything in this post has triggered a feeling or a thought, do not ignore it. I implore you to please seek professional assistance. Checkout the resources tab for numbers you may contact.

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