Introduction to mental health
Mental health problems can affect people at any time of life and in different ways. They can include anxiety, depression, thoughts of suicide, self-harm and dementia.
Your local doctor (GP)
If you are worried about your mental health, or that of a close friend or relative, you should contact your doctor. They can offer advice or refer you to specialist services.
All local doctors have access to teams of professionals and support staff offering a range of skills and different ways to help. Where necessary, they will work closely together to provide support and services.
If you feel uncomfortable with your doctor you should be able to:
- ask to see another doctor in the practice
- ask to see the nurse at the practice (if there is one)
- register with a new surgery
Support from other people
There are other people who may be able to offer you help and support, including:
Friends and relations
Often, friends and relations will notice changes in you and be concerned, so talking to them may be a relief to them and helpful to you. You can ask someone to go with you to a doctor's appointment if you are concerned about visiting a doctor alone.
Your doctor may refer you to a specialist like a psychiatrist, psychotherapist, community psychiatric nurse or a counsellor. These professionals will work with you to help you find ways of dealing with the problems you are experiencing.
If you are under 18 years old
Try talking to your parent(s) or someone who has parental responsibility for you. You could also talk to a teacher, youth worker, doctor, or call ChildLine. Calls to ChildLine are free and you do not have to tell them your name if you don't want to.
Your college or university may have a counsellor you could talk to. The counsellor may:
- offer you regular counselling sessions to talk about your thoughts and feelings
- refer you to your doctor for medication or specialist services
- advise you on other education services that may be able to help, like talking to an accommodation officer (if there is one) if your living arrangements are contributing to your illness
For more information contact student services at your college or university.
Nightline is a confidential telephone support service for students, run by students. You can find out about Nightline services in your area on the National Nightline website.
Other ways to get support and advice
Other people who may be able to help are health visitors, employers, charities and self-help groups.