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.

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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 might happen when I talk to my doctor?

In your appointment, your doctor will probably make an initial  assessment by asking questions about:

  • your mood, thoughts and behaviours – sometimes by using questionnaires or forms which measure depression and anxiety
  • any sleep problems or changes in appetite
  • your medical history, and your family’s medical history

They might also check your physical health to rule out any physical illness. This could involve:

  • taking your blood pressure
  • measuring your weight
  • doing a blood test

The outcome of your appointment will usually depend on:

  • what you say
  • what your doctor thinks might help
  • what kind of support you would like

What might the outcome of my appointment be?

Your appointment might have several possible outcomes:

  • Monitoring – your doctor might ask you to come back for another appointment before offering any treatment.
  • Diagnosis – your doctor might give you a diagnosis, for example of depression or anxiety. This doesn’t always happen after your first appointment and may only be possible after monitoring you over time or referring you to a specialist.
  • Referral – your doctor could refer you to another service, such as a psychiatrist or community mental health team (CMHT), or for talking treatments (sometimes called 'psychological wellbeing services').
  • Self-referral – your doctor could give you details of a service you can contact yourself, for example psychological wellbeing services or a CMHT.
  • Self-help resources – your doctor might recommend resources for you to use by yourself. These are tools that have been developed by health care professionals, and can include workbooks, computer programmes or exercise programmes (sometimes called ‘exercise on prescription’).
  • Medication – your doctor might offer to prescribe you psychiatric medication.

In most cases, everything you tell your doctor will be confidential. The only exceptions are if you tell them something which makes them believe that you might seriously harm yourself or someone else. In this situation, they will decide how to balance your right to confidentiality with the need to keep you and others safe.

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

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