Ambulance - seeking help for a mental health problem

A guide for ambulance service staff and volunteers on how to seek professional help for a mental health problem.

Your stories

What is mental health and mental wellbeing?

Taryn blogs about mental health and wellbeing. What do they mean to you?

Taryn Ozorio
Posted on 24/01/2011

What decisions can I make?

Making decisions about your treatment should be a conversation, involving both you and your health care professionals. You should expect to have a say in:

Who treats you

Having a good relationship with your GP can be a really important way of getting the right support. If you don’t feel you have a good relationship with your current GP, you can:

  • Ask to see a different doctor. You can do this by asking the receptionist to make you an appointment with a different GP, moving to a different GP surgery, or consider seeking help through the private sector.
  • Ask to talk to a different type of practitioner, like a nurse, specialist mental health worker or practice counsellor.
  • Ask your doctor to refer you to a specialist.
  • Self-refer to another service (in some cases). If you self-refer to a psychological wellbeing service or a community mental health team (CMHT), they will normally carry out another initial assessment to see if they can support you.

My practice nurse was great as a go-between with the GP, who then knew how to handle my appointments and where to suggest we go to for help.

What treatment you receive

There are lots of different treatments that can help you manage your mental health. The most common are:

How effective any treatment is differs from person to person, and you might have to try different things before you find out what works for you.

I was involved in choices about my medication. We agreed on a particular antipsychotic because of my issues around weight... and the change happened because of me! That made me feel in charge of my own care.

Where you receive treatment

You can be involved in making sure your treatment is accessible to you.

This could include:

  • asking for home visits
  • choosing a service close to where you live
  • deciding not to accept treatment in a service which is too far away

There may be some limits, such as if a service only exists in certain areas. But your health care team should try to offer you a choice whenever they can, and work with you to find a suitable location for your treatment.

When you receive treatment

Talking treatments

Whatever your treatment is, you should receive it within a reasonable amount of time. However, there can sometimes be long waiting times to access talking treatments through the NHS.

  • You can ask your doctor for an estimate of how long the waiting lists are.
  • If you are worried that waiting for treatment is going to have a serious impact on your wellbeing, you can ask your doctor what extra support they can offer.

If you are finding it very difficult to access the service you want on the NHS, you could think about exploring options through the private sector.


  • You can discuss with your doctor when you will start medication and how long you will take it for.
  • Your doctor should offer you regular appointments to review your medication, but you can ask for a medication review at any time.
  • If you need to see a specialist before taking medication, you can ask your doctor for other support while you are waiting.

(See our pages on medication for more information on what to know before you start taking medication, specific drugs and your right to refuse medication.)

This information was published in September 2015. We will revise it in 2018.

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