Content reviewed and updated on 9/23/2021.
What to Expect During Your First Appointment
Booking your first appointment with a mental health professional might seem scary, but it doesn’t have to be. With Ahead, we make sure your experience is simple and seamless from start to finish.
Your first appointment with a mental health provider is key in finding a treatment that meets your specific needs. Think of this visit as your chance to get to know your provider and what they can do to help you. And the more you open up about your concerns and share how your symptoms are affecting your life, the sooner your provider can help you move forward.
Here’s what you can expect during your first online appointment:
There are many different types of providers for mental healthcare, with different styles and areas of expertise. At Ahead, we hire board-certified mental health specialists with years of experience treating ADHD and other mental health conditions. We also have a nationwide network of therapists and primary care providers who work in tandem to provide care.
Our providers can prescribe medication and even help you improve your lifestyle and habits. They can recommend behavioral treatment, stimulant and non-stimulant medication, non-medication therapy, lifestyle changes, and more. We believe in holistic, well-balanced treatment that works for you.
If you have more mild to moderate ADHD, you can meet with an Ahead primary care provider. They can help you with more straightforward medication management.
If you have more complex ADHD or other mental health conditions, you might see an Ahead psychiatric specialist. Our psychiatric specialists have years of specialized training in mental health conditions.
Meeting a new provider online can be a unique experience, but we want you to be at ease. Take a closer look at some of Ahead’s providers to start getting familiar.
THE LENGTH OF YOUR INITIAL EVALUATION
If you opt for Ahead’s membership with primary care providers, you can expect a two-part evaluation. First, you will meet for 45 minutes with a licensed mental health therapist. If the therapist makes a diagnosis, you will have a 15-minute follow-up visit with a primary care provider to review your diagnosis.
You can also see one of Ahead’s primary care providers if you have a previous diagnosis and are simply looking for a simpler medication management provider. In that case, you will meet with the provider for 30 minutes to review your diagnosis and treatment plan.
If you opt for care with Ahead’s psychiatric specialists, you can expect a 50-minute evaluation with the provider you selected.
Visit our online help desk to find out which types of care are available near you.
PREPARING FOR YOUR FIRST APPOINTMENT
We simplify the process of setting up your first appointment so you can focus on getting started with treatment. Here’s what you can do to prepare for your first appointment:
- Have your tech ready. Use a computer or smartphone that can support video calling. A strong wifi connection is highly preferred, but in some cases, a cellular connection may work. Check your connection and audio settings before your scheduled appointment so you won’t have to worry about any technical difficulties during your visit.
- Find a private and quiet space. Find a designated quiet area for your online sessions. This should be a setting that feels comfortable and private. Whether it be your car, home office, or your kitchen, plan to be in a quiet space free from distraction where you have privacy and where you can communicate at a normal volume.
- Show up early. Set up a calendar event or alarm to remind you of your first appointment. Joining at least 10 minutes early will help ensure your appointment starts on time.
- Stay local. Make sure you’re also in the same state where your provider practices. If your state has multiple time zones, double-check your start time.
- Don’t be shy. Don’t be afraid to ask your provider questions. It may help to jot a few notes down before your visit. Our providers are here to listen and dive into how your symptoms are affecting your life.
Use this checklist to help you stay accountable for your first appointment and future online sessions. Ahead takes care of everything else to ensure a seamless experience, and doing your part helps create a more cooperative and supportive relationship with your provider.
WHAT TO DISCUSS WITH YOUR PROVIDER AT YOUR FIRST APPOINTMENT
Your first appointment is your chance to set the tone for your new ‘safe space’. Talk to your provider about your concerns, your symptoms, and your preferences. Our providers are here to listen without judgment. You can feel at ease knowing you can talk to them about what you are going through.
Your provider will have a basic understanding of your symptoms from your initial questionnaire. But this evaluation visit will allow them to fill in the gaps to consider a diagnosis and treatment plan for you. They may ask questions about your medical history, psychiatric history, substance use, your occupation, social life, and more. These questions will allow your provider to delve into your current symptoms and personal life to understand the various factors that can affect your condition.
Here are some examples of questions your provider may ask during your first evaluation:
- Does anyone in your family have a history of mental health conditions?
- Do you have a history of substance use problems?
- Have you experienced or currently experience any suicidal or homicidal thoughts? Can you explain what triggered these thoughts?
- What are your current living arrangements like? Do you live alone, with roommates or with a significant other?
- Can you provide examples of your symptoms of inattention, anxiety, or hyperactivity and impulsivity? When do you experience these the most?
- At what moment did you realize that you might have ADHD? What symptoms did you experience then?
Treat this first appointment as your chance to open up and have a real conversation about your symptoms. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand something. With open communication, you and your provider can build a customized treatment plan that’s right for you.
BUILDING YOUR CUSTOM-TAILORED TREATMENT PLAN
Ahead’s providers can assess the complexity of your symptoms, prescribe medication or non-medication therapy, and more. You can expect your provider to talk with you about next steps.
You may or may not need medication for your mental health condition. During your initial evaluation, your provider will discuss options with you. Share what types of treatment you are comfortable with. If you do need medication, you can get them delivered for free straight to your door. Just ask your provider for this option when discussing your treatment plan.
At the end of your visit, your provider will work with you to set up your next appointment. After you confirm a time, your next appointment will show up in your patient portal. You will get an email confirmation along with the option to add the appointment to your online calendar.
GETTING STARTED WITH AHEAD
Starting treatment isn’t easy, but we’re here to help. Ahead’s care team is available to help via chat, call, or text. We want you to feel heard and understood. We are here for every step of your journey!
Whether it’s your first time opening up to someone about your symptoms or you have been in treatment for years, our providers are ready to meet you where you’re at and help get you where you want to be.
Ready to take the first step? Book your first online visit within minutes, and we’ll take care of the rest.