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Resources for patients and families including educational programs and information about mental health issues from the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Everyone struggles from time to time and it’s normal to feel upset when bad things happen or stress increases. These responses are healthy, human reactions to stressful events. However, if those feelings interfere with friends, family, school or work, help is available. It can sometimes be difficult to know where to start when seeking care for mental health challenges.
An estimated one in four of American adults will experience a diagnosable mental health condition each year. Nearly half of those have more than one mental health condition, and 6% have conditions that are severe and disabling.
The Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital offers a variety of treatment programs, clinical research opportunities and free patient education programs to help you find the care that is right for you or your loved ones.
The Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital offers free educational programs for patients and families. Programs include presentations from Mass General clinicians and discussions with clinicians, patients and family members facing a variety of mental health challenges.
Sign up for our "Inside the Academy Newsletter" email to be notified about upcoming programs. Emails are sent a month before each program. We will not share your contact information.
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Watch archived presentations in the ongoing series of educational presentations.
Updates on the Treatment of Substance Use Disorders
The Department of Psychiatry is committed to providing the highest quality care to patients of all ages. We offer treatment to patients with a wide range of mental health concerns. Our clinicians put patients first, providing care that is compassionate, safe and patient-focused.
The Department of Psychiatry's offerings include treatment programs for a wide range of psychiatric disorders.
See all treatment programs in the Department of Psychiatry
Massachusetts General Hospital has the largest hospital-based medical research program in the country. The Department of Psychiatry is an important part of that research program. We maintain a wide-ranging research portfolio that includes research on virtually every major psychiatric disorder. The goal of our research program is to develop a better understanding of mental health so we can create more effective treatments.
Many of our treatment programs combine clinical work and research into a single program. This model of cross-talk between clinical care and science has consistently led to research advances at Mass General.
It can sometimes be difficult to get an appointment in our clinical treatment programs. However, because of our unique, integrated model of treatment and research, enrolling in a research program can often be a good alternative for accessing care.
Explore our current clinical trials
Psychiatric research evaluates how effective a new treatment is compared to a standard therapy or a placebo (inactive) pill. Your participation in a study helps us understand more about mental health disorders and their treatments. Participation can also benefit you directly, because you will often receive the most current treatments as they are developed.
Participating in a study is typically very safe. Doctors follow your symptoms closely during the course of a study to ensure your safety. If a doctor is concerned about your safety, he or she may take you out of the study and help you find an appropriate alternative for care.
Read our Research FAQ to learn more about participating in our research.
When you feel that something is wrong and you may need help with a mental health challenge, it can be helpful to carefully consider what is bothering you.
Often the process of seeking mental health care begins with your primary care physician. Your primary care physician may recommend that you see a mental health professional or may prescribe medications until you’re able to get an appointment with a mental health professional.
If you think that something just isn’t right, it can be a good idea to start by asking yourself these questions:
If the answer to these questions is yes, this may be a sign that you would benefit from consulting a professional.
Once you decide to seek professional help, there are many types of providers who can assess and treat your condition. It’s important to determine what kind of mental health care professional is best suited for you or your loved one. You may want to consider different types of providers before settling on one.
As an initial step, it's a good idea to begin with an evaluation with a general psychiatrist or psychologist. These individuals will usually conduct a thorough diagnostic interview. They may offer you treatment or they may refer you to another mental health professional.
Emergency psychiatric care at Mass General is provided through the Acute Psychiatry Service, located within the hospital’s Emergency Department. All care takes place face-to-face in a dedicated area within the Emergency Medicine Department.
If you or a loved one are not able to travel to the Emergency Department and are facing immediate danger due to a psychiatric issue, please call 911 to access help.
When searching for a provider, there are a number of things you may want to consider about a particular provider:
There are many types of mental health professionals offering a broad variety of treatment approaches. Licensing and certification requirements for these professionals vary by state, province or country.
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental health conditions. Training requires a medical degree, followed by an internship, usually in general medicine, and then residency training in psychiatry. Some psychiatrists specialize in treating certain age groups, while others specialize in a particular condition or type of treatment.
Psychiatrists may prescribe medications, provide talk therapy or both to their patients.
Credentials: PhD, PsyD, EdD, MS
A psychologist assesses and treats emotional, behavioral and learning problems. A psychologist has typically earned a doctoral degree (usually a PhD) in psychology, although some have a master's degree in psychology. Some psychologists provide talk therapy and may specialize in certain types of therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or interpersonal therapy (IPT). Others specialize in evaluating learning and behavioral issues that can affect academic and work performance.
In most US states, psychologists are not authorized to prescribe medications.
Credentials: MSW, LCSW, LICSW, ACSW, LCS, DSW, PhD, CCSW
A social worker helps individuals, families and communities to overcome challenges and improve emotional health and daily functioning by providing counseling. Social workers also help identify appropriate community resources and support systems. A social worker has an advanced degree in social work and may have received additional clinical training in mental health care. A licensed clinical social worker (LCSW or LICSW) has completed additional training and is qualified to conduct psychotherapy and diagnose mental health disorders.
Social workers cannot prescribe medication.
Credentials: MD, PhD, MSW, LICSW
A psychoanalyst may be a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker or, in certain states, even a lay individual. Psychoanalysts complete specialized training in addition to their medical, psychological or social work studies. Psychoanalysts focus on helping individuals understand and address the unconscious factors that may create unhappiness or difficulties in work or relationships. Treatment is typically intensive with psychoanalysis sessions four to five times a week.
Credentials: LMHC, LPC, LCPC
Licensed mental health counselors have a master's degree in counseling or a closely related discipline, plus post-master's clinical work under the supervision of a licensed or certified mental health professional. Counselors offer a variety of services to individuals, couples and families, including assessment and diagnosis, psychotherapy, treatment planning, crisis management and prevention programs.
Credentials: APRN, APN, ARNPP, MHN
Advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) have a master's degree in mental health nursing and are eligible to be licensed as therapists. APRNs may perform the function of a psychotherapist, educator or advanced case manager.
These nurses are authorized to prescribe medication in certain states, usually under the supervision of a medical doctor.
Credentials: NCAC, MAC
Substance use counselors are trained to prevent and treat problems relating to drug or alcohol use disorders. They have typically received training in a certified training program, and a master's degree is required in most states. Some substance use counselors are themselves recovered substance users and may share their personal experiences with their clients. This practice differs from that of other mental health professionals, who typically do not disclose detailed information about their personal lives.
Other mental health professionals such as psychologists and psychiatrists may also work in the substance use disorder field, either as therapists or (in the case of psychiatrists) as psychopharmacologists who prescribe medications.
Credentials: LMFT, MFCC
These professionals specialize in working with families and couples to provide psychotherapy. Marriage and family therapists evaluate and treat emotional and behavioral disorders. They can also address relationship issues within the context of the family system. They have a graduate degree (either a master's degree or doctoral degree) and clinical work experience.
In addition to conventional therapy approaches, many other choices for alternative approaches exist, including:
Some of these alternative practitioners are subject to licensing and some are not. Likewise, some of these practices have specific degree programs associated with the discipline and others do not. It's generally a good idea to research alternative care providers carefully before embarking on a lengthy course of treatment, particularly as alternative treatments are often not covered by insurance.
Department of PsychiatryMassachusetts General Hospital55 Fruit StreetBoston, MA 02114Phone: 617-724-5600
Boston Emergency Services Team: 800-981-4357
Patient & family education programs: 866-644-7792
If you or a loved one are not able to travel to the Emergency Department and you are facing immediate harm due to a psychiatric issue, please call 911 to access help.
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