The United States does not have a well-organized system to treat substance abuse and mental illness. Sometimes it’s hard to know who to turn to for your needs. This overview answers the question: Who does what?
Primary care physicians can prescribe and monitor medication, but often prefer that you work first with a psychiatrist.
Psychiatrists are licensed medical doctors with medical and psychiatric training. They can diagnose and prescribe medication. Some provide therapy.
Psychiatric nurse practitioners have a master’s or PhD and specialized training. They can assess, diagnose, prescribe medication and do therapy. You can usually get an appointment with a psychiatric nurse practitioner more quickly than with a psychiatrist.
Clinical psychologists with doctoral degree make diagnoses and provide individual and group therapy.
Psychiatric or mental health nurses, depending on education and licensing, can assess and treat illness, do case management and provide therapy.
School psychologists can make a diagnosis, provide therapy, and work to provide healthy school environment. My personal experience is that school psychologists do not have enough bandwidth to do an effective job with children who are struggling.
Counselors can help find better ways of thinking and living, as well as help people develop life skills. Some can diagnose and treat.
Clinical social workers has a master’s degree in social work. They make diagnoses and provide counseling, case management and advocacy.
Peer specialists are individuals who have experience with a mental illness and can help others with recovery.
Social workers with a B.A. or B.S. can provide case management, inpatient discharge planning and placement services.
Psychiatric pharmacists have doctoral training and residence training to provide comprehensive medication management. They usually work in a health care system like Veterans Affairs, hospitals, clinics., etc.