There seems to be a lot of coverage of mental health issues and talking about emotions. Which is brilliant.
But how easy is it to actually get help if you are in crisis?
The first step should always be your GP. A GP can listen to your symptoms, prescribe medication, order tests and refer you to more specialist services. The first two, listening and prescribing, are relatively quick. Medication can take a while to start working effectively, but often the knowledge that something is being done can make a huge difference. I know this because the last time I increased my dose I went back for a follow-up appointment a few weeks later. The doctor asked how I was feeling and I told her how wonderful everything was. She then told me that the increased dose won’t actually kick in for another couple of weeks!
Further tests, usually blood tests, can help to diagnose if it is depression or another condition that has similar symptoms. So it is important to follow this up.
Referral to specialist services is something that takes time. On the Transparency Indicators for NHS Trusts there are indicators for:
- People waiting less than 6 weeks to start treatment
- People waiting less than 18 weeks to start treatment
If you’re anything like I was and you’ve struggled for years without knowing what’s wrong or what can be done about it, when you need help it is urgent. Six weeks are an eternity if you struggle to get through one day.
So this is why you should seek help as soon as you think you have a problem. This is easier said than done. I struggled for 2 years, probably more, before I sought help of any kind. And when I did get help I was sent to hospital.
If you are in crisis, you can only access the crisis support team if you have already been referred by your GP. Local charities may only help if you have been referred by your GP.
Once you are in the system you can access other services. Referral to a Mental Health team, access to psychiatrists and therapy and access to a crisis support team. These all come with a waiting period. So the trick is to get in the system before you need help. Which doesn’t make sense. To me.
However, there are options open to you if you don’t have a referral:
Listening and emotional support services via telephone or internet.
Emergency or Out of hours GP appointments
Accident and Emergency
Counselling (fee paying)
See our How to get help A-Z page for details. Please tell us of any other services that you are aware of or that have worked well for you.