The Future of Mental Health: Bringing Together Health Seekers and Providers

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I have been providing mental health services to men, women, and families since 1968. Like many mental healthcare providers, my desire to help others began in my family. When I was five years old, my mid-life father took an overdose of sleeping pills. He had become increasingly depressed because he couldn’t make a living during what he loved to do to support his family.

            Though he didn’t die, our lives were never the same. He was committed to Camarillo State Mental Hospital, north of where we lived in Los Angeles. The treatment available then was far worse than it is today. He didn’t get better. His mental health deteriorated, but the doctors told our family that he just needed more “treatment.”

            I grew up wondering what happened to my father, when it would happen to me, and what I could do to prevent other families from suffering as we had. I graduated from college and was accepted into medical school in 1965. I thought I wanted to become a psychiatrist. On a conscious level, I wanted to help others like my father. On a deeper level I was terrified that I would become mentally ill and end up being locked up like my dad. I thought if I could get fully educated about mental health, I could keep mental illness from coming into my life.

            Medical school at the time felt much too narrow to address all the inter-related physical, mental, emotional, relational, social, and spiritual problems that I knew someone with mental illness must address. I soon transferred from U.C. San Francisco Medical School to U.C. Berkeley School of Social Welfare where a wider range of problems were addressed and I joined a program that taught a more varied arsenal of interventions.

            Like most new graduates with a professional degree, I began working in various healthcare settings. I began working at the mental hospital where I had done my most recent field placement, later I spent several years working in various settings helping people recover from a variety of addictions.

            Over the last forty years I have worked in the emerging field of Gender-Specific Medicine where I have specialized in helping men and their families. Following the publication of my first book Inside Out: Becoming My Own Man in 1983, I launched MenAlive. I offer a variety of resources to help men and their families to live fully, love deeply, and make a positive difference in the world.

            In weekly articles I share what I’ve learned from my professional practice over the last fifty-plus years. I also am open about what I have learned from addressing my own mental health issues. I call myself a “two-hatter.” One hat is the one I wear when I work with clients who come to me for help. The other hat is the one I wear when I am getting help with my own mental health challenges.

I wrote about my mental health journey in several my books including Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Overcoming Romantic and Sexual Addictions, Stress Relief for Men, and The Irritable Male Syndrome: Understanding and Managing the 4 Key Causes of Depression and Aggression.

I also write a weekly newsletter where I share articles that can help others. In one, “Being Bipolar: Living in a World of Fire and Ice,” I describe my own healing journey with mental illness.

“Most people don’t know I’m bipolar,”

I say in the article.

“After  years of loving kindness shown to me by my wife, therapy with a caring and skilling therapist, and medications to help keep me in balance, my illness is in remission.”

As I’ve learned over the years, both as a provider of mental health services and one seeking information and help to treat my own problems, finding good resources and help is not easy.

Let’s face it, we are living in crazy times, where the whole world seems angry, anxious, stressed, and depressed and things are getting worse. In 2018 the American Psychological Association surveyed a thousand U.S. adults about their sources and levels of anxiety. The APA found that 39% of Americans reported being more anxious than they were in 2017, and an equal amount (39%) had the same level of anxiety as the previous year. That’s nearly 80% of the population experiencing anxiety.

What are people most concerned about? The APA survey reported that:

  • 68% worried about health and safety.
  • 67% reported finances as their source of anxiety.
  • 56% were stressed about our political system and elections.

The APA also found that 63% of Americans felt that the future of the nation was a large source of stress. 59% checked the box that “the United States is at the lowest point they can remember in history.”

Clearly with statistics like these, we can no longer view “mental illness” as simply a problem of individuals. We are experiencing a problem of whole systems collapsing and we need to develop new systems to bring about repair. My colleague, Margaret J. Wheatley, author of the book, Who Do We Choose to Be? Facing Reality, Claiming Leadership says,

“Our task is to create Islands of Sanity, both internally and within our sphere of influence, where sanity prevails, where people can recall and practice the best human qualities of generosity, caring, creativity, and community.”

WebShrink: Bringing Mental Health Seekers and Mental Health Providers Together

            I first learned about Webshrink when I received an email from Dr. Edward Bilotti. It began,

“Dear Jed, we need your help.”

            As you know from reading thus far, I’m all about helping others. Dr. Bilotti went on to say:

            “When it comes to mental health, the internet can be a crowded and confusing place for those seeking answers. People need a place where they’ll find appropriate information and help. They need a safe place where the important work we do as mental health professionals is honored, and topics are presented respectfully.

            “That’s why I founded Webshrink. The name might be a bit tongue-in-cheek, but the topic couldn’t be more serious. Webshrink’s mission is to:

  •  Be the go-to place for struggling individuals and their loved ones as well as professionals like you.
  • Provide accurate, trustworthy information that is easy to understand, fact-checked, and never pop-psychology-based.
  • Promote hope and positivity by giving voice to those who want to share their stories.
  • Make it easy and safe for clients and professionals to connect and communicate online.”

When I finished reading Dr. Bilotti’s letter I knew I needed to learn more. I reached out to him and asked if he would be interested in doing an interview for my blog. He agreed and you can watch the full interview here.

After talking to him in person, I realized he is for real. He’s a man on a mission and the mission is one that is near and dear to my heart and soul. If you’re a  health care provider, you will find Dr. Bilotti to be a kindred spirit who is in the business of helping other health care providers like yourself. If you are a seeker of health care and want to get the latest, most accurate, information that can help you make good decisions about your health, you will also find a caring community at Webshrink. If you are a “two-hatter” like me, you will find much that will interest and excite you.

Being a health care provider I was interested in some of the things Webshrink is planning to offer us. Dr. Bilotti detailed a few new things planned for later this year:

  • HIPAA-compliant telehealth platform designed for mental health.
  • A complete, searchable medication database.
  • Secure, private messaging between therapists and clients.
  • Online scheduling.
  • More resources and clinical tools for therapists.

I decided to join and hope you’ll consider joining as well. Here are the main reasons I think Webshrink is a community worth joining:

  • I believe in the mission to create a community of mental health Seekers and Providers.
  • I believe in the man behind the mission, Dr. Ed. Bilotti.
  • The cost is extremely reasonable: $4/month, $40/year, $100/Lifetime (and you get a free month to try it out. Can’t beat that).
  • Plus, Dr. Bilotti is offering all providers a $25 gift certificate to Amazon if you join by March 30, 2024. (He told me he wants to encourage people to buy one of my books, but you can spend it anyway you want.)

If you want to get more information and consider joining this worthwhile movement you can learn about listing your practice here.

And if you want to see what a listing looks like you can check out my own at https://tinyurl.com/WebshrinkDrJed.

Plus, if you liked this article and would like to get a free E-Copy of my latest book Long Live Men! The Moonshot Mission to Heal Men, Close the Lifespan Gap, and Offer Hope to Humanity, send an email to: Jed@MenAlive.com and put “Webshrink book offer” in the subject line. It is my 17th book and some say, it’s my best.

The post The Future of Mental Health: Bringing Together Health Seekers and Providers appeared first on MenAlive.

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