How to Find a Good Psychiatrist for Mental Health

Are you experiencing mental health symptoms but not sure whom to turn to for help? Have you done some research but got confused over the many different titles and types of mental health professionals available? You are not alone. Around 50 million American adults experience mental illness. Each has likely asked the question, “Who can help me?”

A good place to start is with a psychiatrist. Whether your symptoms are severe or mild, whether you feel like you are facing a crisis or have questions about your mental health, a psychiatrist can help.

In this article, we’re exploring a common question we hear – how to find a good psychiatrist?

What Is a Psychiatrist?

Psychiatrists are medical doctors. They attend the same medical schools that all other doctors do. After medical school, students move on to their residencies and specialty courses, where they gain further knowledge and experience in a specific field. Examples of specialty fields include oncology, cardiovascular, gynecology, and psychiatry.

Psychiatrists understand how the brain’s structure and functioning contribute to mental health. They examine how mental health affects personal, professional, academic, and social aspects of a person’s life and creates a treatment plan for improvement.

Psychiatrists must pass state certification exams to receive license approval. Their board certification recognizes that psychiatrists are experts on mental health and are in good standing with all licensing agencies. 

Finding a good psychiatrist goes beyond whether their license is in good standing. Below are the various factors to look for in your search.

Psychiatrists Perform Multiple Services

Some people think a psychiatrist’s job is to prescribe medicine. While true, it is not their only job. Psychiatrists offer many services, including:

  • Admission to inpatient mental health programs or hospitals
  • Urgent care for mental health crises
  • Assess and evaluate symptoms, lifestyle, medical history, etc.
  • Diagnose mental illness using testing results
  • Treatment planning to manage and cope with mental illness
  • Consultation with treatment teams regarding progress 
  • Referrals to various health professionals who can assist in the overall treatment plan
  • Advise individuals and family members on the successful management of mental health
  • Administer medications in-office only

Psychiatrists Can Treat Mental Illness

Psychiatrists can create a treatment plan for all mental health disorders on multiple levels. Each treatment plan is unique to the individual and their family. They use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, 5th edition, created by the American Psychiatric Association, to correctly diagnose symptoms that meet mental health criteria.

There are hundreds of mental health diagnoses, but the most common a psychiatrist can treat include the following and sub-categories of each:

Good psychiatrists utilize a combination of therapies rather than rely on one type. If treating a major depressive disorder, a psychiatrist may recommend antidepressant medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, peer support group, and family therapy. If treating substance abuse, a psychiatrist may recommend medication-assisted treatment to ease withdrawal symptoms, dialectical behavioral therapy, holistic therapies, 12-step facilitation groups, and family therapy.

Psychiatrists include you and all other health professionals on your team when creating your treatment plan.

Psychiatrists Know the Classifications of Medicines

While general practitioners, surgeons, nurse practitioners, and other doctors can prescribe mental health medicines, a psychiatrist understands their classifications and how they affect brain functioning and improve mental health.

Classifications include antidepressants, which treat anxiety, depression, eating disorders, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and more.

Antipsychotic medications treat illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Sedatives and hypnotics aid in improving sleep and reducing anxiety. Stimulants help with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Psychiatrists Use Advanced Treatments When Necessary

Common medications may not work for everyone, and psychiatrists must use advanced treatment methods. For example, some people with severe depression have tried numerous different antidepressants combined with therapy, yet they continue to suffer from devastating symptoms. 

They have treatment-resistant depression. They may not know that psychiatrists have better options, like ketamine infusions, vagus nerve stimulation, electroconvulsive therapy, and transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Psychiatrists Have Referrals and Reviews

When searching for a treatment provider, it helps to check out what current and former clients have to say. Read online reviews on Google and the doctor’s website. Read posts on their social media page. Ask the psychiatrist for a few referrals that you can contact for feedback.

Sometimes word of mouth is the best way to find a good psychiatrist for mental health. Ask friends, family, coworkers, family doctors, and acquaintances you trust to give you a good lead.

Psychiatrists Will Answer Your Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their practice. If a psychiatrist does not want to answer your questions, they are not the right fit for you. Questions you may want to ask to include the following:

  • Do you have a psychiatric specialty? Some doctors may have a niche, such as working with children or the elderly. Others may have special training in forensics, addictions, or treatment-resistant therapies.
  • How much experience do you have with my symptoms?
  • What is the diagnosis and treatment process?
  • What should I do if I have an emergency after business hours?
  • Do you accept insurance plans? What is your payment policy?
  • Can we have sessions online as well as in person?
  • How can you help my family?
  • What should I expect at the first appointment?

You can add other questions to learn more about your specific symptoms.


Finding a good psychiatrist for mental health can be a process. The first one you choose may not be the best fit. It’s okay to request a referral to someone who meets your needs. Start your search at a treatment facility like The Mental Health Center, where you can access psychiatrists, therapists, and other professionals who can help you overcome your symptoms.

Don’t give up if you can’t find a good psychiatrist immediately. Your mental health is worth the effort. Once you connect with the right doctor, you will likely see quick improvements in all areas of your life.