Accessing mental health services
We can help you consider options for support or action that address your individual circumstances. The information below gives more information on how to access mental health services and what other help may be available.
If you haven’t had any experience of mental illness before, you may not be aware that your doctor is a good first point of contact when looking for help and support.
You may already have a good relationship with your doctor and feel comfortable talking to them about your concerns.
Making an appointment with your GP
If you’re uncertain about how your doctor might respond, you may understandably feel a bit nervous about discussing a mental health problem with them. If this is the case, here are some useful tips:
- Ask to see a doctor who has a particular interest in mental health.
- Book a double appointment – this gives you more time to talk things through.
- Write down beforehand how you have been feeling as this can remind you what you want to say – it can also help the doctor to fully understand your situation.
- See if a friend or family member can come with you – they can ask questions you might not think of, and help you remember what has been said afterwards.
Getting a diagnosis
Your doctor may be able to provide a diagnosis for more common mental health problems such as depression or anxiety.
By saying depression and anxiety are common mental health problems, this is not to underestimate in any way how distressing and difficult they may be. It is simply a reassurance that doctors encounter such matters on a daily basis and will be familiar with people’s experiences of these difficulties.
Treatment and support
Once you have a diagnosis, your doctor will discuss options for treatment and support with you. Options may include medication, for example antidepressants, and/or a talking treatment, such as counselling or therapy.
Counselling and therapy
Talking to a counsellor or therapist enables you to talk through how you are feeling with someone who is accepting, understanding and non-judgemental.
This can be helpful in itself; it may also help you understand difficult feelings, and begin to find ways of coping more positively with such feelings.
Finding a counsellor or therapist
Your doctor can refer you to an NHS counsellor. Waiting times can be quite lengthy, depending on your location. If this is the case, you might like to consider seeing a therapist or counsellor privately.
Alternatively, your doctor may know of local organisations that provide counselling. These may be low-cost services, where you are asked to make a contribution, depending on your level of income.
Other sources of mental health help and support
Some schools may have counsellors available, or you may be able to talk to your form tutor or another teacher you trust if you are concerned about your own or someone else’s mental health.
Remember if you are in college or university, counselling and other support services are likely to be available. Ask at the students’ union.
Some larger workplaces offer counselling services. Ask your HR department or union rep about what help is available.
There is a wide range of medication available for depression and anxiety, and it may take some time to find the one that best suits each individual.
This is because it takes time for medication to work; you may not immediately feel the benefits you are expecting or hoping for; conversely, this is the time when any side-effects may be most prominent.
Things should settle down after a couple of weeks. However, if you keep in touch with your doctor, they can provide reassurance and support.
If your doctor can’t provide a diagnosis, they may refer you on to a mental health specialist for diagnosis. Again, once you have a diagnosis, options for treatment and support can be discussed.
For further information go to NHS mental health services.