A woman looking over a large valley during sunrise, portraying potential and freedom

An overview of mental health treatment options

Three types of mental health treatment

Mental health care has access to three different types of treatments that work: Medication, Therapies, and Rehab Services. A combination of all three of these options usually creates the best results for anyone struggling with mental illness. These mental health treatment options are important to understand if you or a loved one are struggling with a mental illness.

1. Medication

In total, we have access to 30 antidepressants, 20 anti-psychotics, 7 mood stabilizers, and 6 ADHD medications. These are generally effective for short-term reduction of symptoms. However, they often require days and weeks to reduce symptoms. A new substance that we are still learning about is ketamine – it takes hours instead of weeks for symptoms to reduce, which is very exciting.

With medication, we expect clients to partially respond to the treatment. It is not a “cure”. The goal of medication is to reduce disability and increase functionality so that the client may return to work or have access to enough resources to utilize additional treatment protocols that they were unable to access without medication.

When medication is started, usually, it is very important for there to be ongoing supervision from the client’s doctor and family. Often, suicide risk is highest when people regain some functionality after being depressed (often, this is a few days to weeks after they’ve started medication). The client becomes well enough to start forming a plan for suicide, and has enough energy to potentially carry that plan out. Experienced professionals will predict and expect this and will often have the client start with therapy or rehab services during this time period to ensure client safety.

Once therapy or rehab services are utilized, and the client is fully stable in their day-to-day life at home, this is when reducing the dose or conversations about adjusting medication are usually the most successful.

2. Therapies

Therapy is one-on-one work between a client and a licensed mental health practitioner. Therapy has evolved a lot over the years and is no longer a “sit-on-a-couch and spill-your-feelings” session. It involves learning skills like reframing, emotional regulation, revealing, and general introspection. Therapy sessions often involve a combination of tools and modalities such as CBT, recreational therapy, DBT, education, trauma release methods, etc. A good therapist will utilize those tools as needed and be able to support the client in accomplishing very specific therapeutic goals within the session. The therapist will also understand the medication a client is using and the diagnosis. The clinician will use that data to implement precise therapeutic techniques to address different symptoms and build resilience. Recently, therapy has expanded into the virtual space, and we are excited to see how that continues to evolve in the field.

3. Rehab services

Similar to physical therapy after an injury, recovering from a psychotic episode can take months of work in order to rebuild your life and repair your psyche. Rehab services consist of assertive community teams that address education, employment, family therapy, and personalized care for a client who is struggling with their mental health. Rehab services have an equal to surpassing impact on mental health to medication. Unfortunately, rehab services are not covered by most insurance providers in the USA and so are underutilized and low-paid. Currently, this option is only available to 5% of the population who have a severe mental illness despite its proven effectiveness.

Symptoms not addressed by current mental health treatment options:

Although we have many solutions to different mental health symptoms and diagnoses, we do not have solutions or even coping options for all struggles. Currently, we do not have treatment solutions for fixed delusions, some schizophrenic symptoms such as lack of affect, poverty of thought, lack of motivation, memory loss, negative bias, or deficits in executive function such as judgment or long-term planning. If a client is suffering from one of these symptoms, a clinician will typically work with a team of professionals such as medical staff, home care staff, and family in order to come up with unique and individualized workarounds for the patient.

Changes we need to make in our approach

Our current treatment focus in mental health is typically short-term symptom reduction for long-term illnesses. We have invested in short-term care options such as acute care and detox facilities and have dropped our long-term care resources from over 350 inpatient beds for every 100,000 people in the 1950s to 21 inpatient beds per 100,000 people (NIMH). This is problematic, of course – it can create dependency on these short-term services, burn out therapists, and put a large burden on families and communities who are caring for the clients long term. This current model prohibits true, long-lasting recovery.

Mental illness is a long-term illness. However, it is not chronic, it is episodic. Mental illnesses are cyclical in nature and often will “go away” and then come back. Making sure a client has access to robust resources repeatedly throughout their life is essential for the long-term success of each patient. Often, one psychotic episode can throw a client into a lifetime of debt, put them behind in their career, initiate divorce, separate children from parents etc. We need to streamline the approach for relapse so that these patients don’t have to start over every time they relapse.

Solutions to these problems require policy changes in how we require insurance companies to reimburse clinicians. The cost barriers and short-term thinking related to cost does no one any favors. Through implementing measurement-based care solutions, treatment providers can begin to make the financial case that investing in these solutions can save money for payers in the long term. Eventually, we hope that insurance will pay for acute care for a mental illness the same way they do for acute physical care.

Antelope’s commitment to innovation in care

At Antelope Recovery, we are deeply committed to staying at the forefront of innovative mental healthcare. We believe in the power of innovative therapeutic techniques to transform lives, and we’re dedicated to offering the latest evidence-based therapies and approaches. If you or your teenager are seeking guidance on the journey to better mental health, don’t hesitate to reach out to Antelope Recovery. Together, we can explore how our innovative care can make a meaningful difference in your lives, fostering growth, resilience, and lasting well-being.