There are a number of different routes to getting mental health treatment in the UK both free and paid. Some options will depend on your history and whether you have a pre-existing condition but there are channels available regardless of your past or present situation and I will run through some of these below:
Talking to your GP
The first step should always be talking to your GP as they will generally have the best understanding of your medical history and be best placed to help you find the right route to treatment. I have had mixed experiences in the past and have changed GP before due to a less than sympathetic response.
I was actually told by one doctor for example that I just needed to get more exercise and I would be fine. Whilst this is definitely good advice as part of a broader treatment plan it is not necessarily a cure-all on it’s own. I didn’t see that doctor again.
If you feel that your GP has not taken your concerns seriously or that what they have suggested doesn’t feel right for you, don’t be afraid to speak to the practice staff and request to see a different doctor. I have done this in the past and it is what led to my being referred for therapy and receiving a diagnosis.
IAPT – Self Referral
After changing GP, I was referred to IAPT an incredible service, dedicated to improving access for adults to Psychological Therapies. whilst I was referred by my GP it is also possible to self refer and you can find a local service using the search feature here
A note of caution here, whilst the CBT treatment I had via IAPT was fantastic. It took 7 months from referral to starting my treatment. It is NOT a crisis service and if you are in crisis you should call 111 to seek advice.
Therapy via Private Health Insurance
Whilst the free services offered by the NHS are incredible, there is a well documented issue with waiting times and as I mention above, it took 7 months for me to get into therapy.
If you are lucky enough to have private medical insurance then your insurer may be able to offer a course of therapy much quicker. I have cover through Vitality however because I joined my plan with a pre-existing condition I was not eligible for that particular service.
It’s extremely important to be honest with your insurer when enquiring about cover to make sure that you are sticking to the terms of your policy.
Big White Wall LiveTherapy
Big White Wall is an online community of people with mental health issues which is staffed and moderated by a group of clinical professionals. In addition to community support, Big White Wall includes a Live Therapy service which allows you to have online sessions with a trained therapist. The waiting times for this service are significantly less than those of other services and may be more convenient as it means that you don’t have to travel to sessions.
Big White Wall has both paid and free subscriptions. It’s not possible to access the talking therapies via the paid option and you will need a referral from your GP however you can find details on this in the link above.
Other Mental Health Resources
In addition to the options mentioned above, you should check out the services linked in the sidebar for other organisations that may be able to help you speed up the the process of getting treatment or offer coping mechanisms in the short term.