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Mental Health Self-Care: Non Mental Health Care Options
By Brianna White, Intrepid Counseling
Prescribers: Who’s Who?
If you’re having that TCK thought, “I’m the only one who doesn’t know what’s going on here,” in this case (like many others), you’re definitely not the only one. Most people who are not prescribers do not know who does what or what the various titles mean.
Mental health clinicians do not decide if someone needs medication, or what it should be. Instead, they should know when it’s a good time to check with a prescriber to see if medication is a good idea for you.
So who are these prescribers?
Psychiatrists are medical doctors, MDs. Prescribing mental health medications is their main role in modern mental health care. Because their skills are in such high demand, they usually cannot spend as much time with someone as a psychologist/counselor/therapist can, so they don’t usually provide therapy. Ideally, your therapist and psychiatrist should communicate as team-mates in your care.
Doctors (MDs) who are not psychiatrists also prescribe mental health medications. They will refer a patient to a psychiatrist if the situation is outside their expertise. Also, certain Nurse practitioners can prescribe mental health medications. Some acronyms you may see for them include ARNP – Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner / APRN – Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, and PMHNP – Psychiatric (mental health) nurse practitioner. Another prescribing professional is a BCPP – Board Certified Psychiatric Pharmacists. In rare cases psychologists (PhD/PsyD) can get “board certified” to prescribe medication.
If you’re a TCK who recently returned to the U.S., you have probably had a big change in how you eat that could be impacting how you feel. We’ve been talking about pills as medication, but food as medication is a growing area in mental health care. For help taking your overall nutritional self-care into account you could consult a Nutritional Psychiatrist (NP) or a Certified Nutritional Psychologist (CNP), both are mental health professionals who are experts in the diet mental health relationship. Other, non-mental health professionals in this field include Registered Dietitians (RD) or Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS).
Make sure you talk to your prescriber about any other specialists you are working with so that they can be in communication. Herbs, supplements, and even foods can interact badly with medication you may be taking, making it work less, or dangerously more, so if you are on medication, make sure you know what foods to limit or avoid and are in communication with your prescriber about any shifts you plan to make in how you eat.