Mental health services

If you are experiencing mental health difficulties it is important to talk to your GP about your thoughts and feelings. The earlier you seek help the easier it will be to identify and resolve your problems.

Your GP

Usually all assessments start with your doctor. Your GP will assess your needs. With your GP, you will be able to decide the best course of action.

Your GP may treat you directly or refer you to mental health services.

Your visit is confidential.  The doctor will not tell your family, friends or anyone else what you discuss without your consent.

They can share information without your consent if:

  • there is a legal obligation
  • it necessary to make sure your safety or the safety of others

Mental health services

If you are referred to mental health services, they will decide your level of priority and contact you to make an appointment.

If your mental health problems are compromising your personal safety, mental health services will see you as soon as possible.

When you are referred to mental health services, a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker or a mental health nurse may assess you.

What happens when you are referred to mental health services

Mental health services will ask you about your:

  • current problems, thoughts and feelings  
  • personal history, including any previous treatments that worked for you
  • social history, including details about your relationship and family life
  • previous emotional and mental health problems
  • lifestyle
  • physical health needs
  • any medication you take

Personal well-being plan

Mental health services will explain any diagnosis being made and will work with you to develop a personal well-being plan (PWP).

Your personal well-being plan summarises your needs and brings together treatment and care options to help you recover. This may include one or a several interventions such as:

  • talking therapies
  • family and social care
  • occupational and lifestyle coaching
  • drug therapy

Community and hospital care

Different health professionals provide mental healthcare.

Primary Care Talking Therapies teams

This generally involves support by counsellors or life well-being coaches. Your GP arranges the care.

Community mental health services

This generally involves care provided by one or more of the following professionals:

  • nurses
  • social workers
  • psychiatrists
  • psychologists
  • occupational therapists
  • family therapists
  • psychotherapists

Your local Health and Social Care Trust arranges this care.

Acute mental health services

This generally involves care provided by a Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment Team or specialist hospital care team.

These services give support in crisis and can provide intensive home support or admission to hospital when someone is temporarily unable to manage independently.

Specific services

This usually involves receiving care from a specialist team, such as:

  • alcohol or drug addiction
  • eating disorders
  • psychological therapies or trauma
  • personality disorders
  • forensic services

What happens when it's an emergency

If you're in danger of harming yourself or others and you refuse treatment, you may need an emergency assessment  This is when a doctor and an approved social worker (a social worker who is specially trained in mental health) assess you.

This may lead to you having to be admitted to hospital against your will for assessment. This assessment should make sure you get the support and care you need and that you don't harm yourself or anyone else.

There are three ways to have an emergency assessment:

  • by going to the emergency department at a local hospital
  • by contacting your GP or your GP out of hours service
  • if the police take you to a place of safety

Places of safety

A place of safety could be:

  • your own home
  • a hospital emergency department
  • a police station

Review of your treatment

A review will take place three months after you go into hospital. If necessary, you will be asked if you give your permission for the treatment to continue.

If you refuse permission, a second independent doctor (a second opinion appointed doctor or SOAD), will be asked to confirm that treatment should continue against your will.

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