A guide for young people on talking to your doctor about how you're feeling, and tips on how to get the most out of your appointment.
If you're worried about the way you're feeling or you're going through a difficult time, it might help to speak to your doctor. They're there to help you with your mental health just as much as your physical health.
This page has information on the following:
It might feel scary talking about your deepest feelings with someone you don't know that well, but your doctor is there to help you find the support you deserve. They can:
"You don’t have to wait to be at your absolute worst to seek help. You wouldn’t do that for physical illnesses and getting help earlier can massively improve your recovery."
Everything you say in an appointment will normally be kept between you and your doctor. They will only share what you've told them with someone else if they are worried that you or someone else could be in danger.
If they do need to tell someone, like your parents or carers, they should tell you first.
To find out more, go to our page on confidentiality.
To book an appointment you can call or go to your doctor's surgery. If you are worried about speaking to someone over the phone, you could ask someone to call for you.
The receptionist might ask what the appointment is for. If you feel comfortable it might help to tell them or just say it's about your feelings. This might help them find you an appointment with a doctor with more experience in that area.
Most appointments last about 10 minutes but you can ask for a double appointment if you feel like you need more time.
If you are over 16, you can sometimes book appointments online.
You can ask at your local surgery to find out more.
In your appointment your doctor will listen to you and might ask questions about:
They might also check your physical health by taking your blood pressure, measuring your weight and doing some blood tests.
"My GP seemed caring, empathetic, and most importantly, very respectful about my decisions. I’m glad I asked for help."
You can see a doctor or nurse at any age on your own, but they might encourage you to speak to your parent or carer about what's going on.
Even if you don't want your parent or carer there, it could help to ask another trusted adult or friend to come with you for support, or just to sit in the waiting room so you know someone is there if you need them.
Appointments can feel short, and you can forget things you want to say, so being prepared can help to get the most out of your appointment. It could help to:
Your doctor might ask you some questions about your sleeping, eating, and exercise. It might help to think about these things before you go to your appointment.
"It helped me to have written down everything that I wanted to get across to make sure we had covered everything in the appointment."
It's not always easy to talk about what's going on but here are some tips that might make it a little easier:
It's always OK to let your doctor know if the conversation's becoming too uncomfortable and you want to stop.
Sometimes you might be unhappy with your doctor. It could be that you don't feel comfortable talking to them, they don't understand what you say or you feel they don't really understand what you're experiencing. If you feel this way, you could ask for an appointment with a different doctor – although you may have to wait for another appointment.
If you are really unhappy with how your doctor (or any healthcare professional) has treated you, you have the right to make a complaint. You can ask at the surgery's reception desk for more information.
"It takes a lot to keep fighting for yourself and find someone who understands, but there is someone and they can help."
This information was published in June 2019. We will revise it in 2021.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.