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A guide to taking the first steps, making empowered decisions and getting the right support for you.
Making decisions about your treatment should be a conversation, involving both you and your healthcare professionals. This is sometimes called shared decision making.
Remember that it takes two kinds of expertise to find the right treatment for you:
Having a good relationship with your GP can be a really important way of getting the right support. If you're not making progress with your current GP, you can:
(See our page on talking to your GP for tips on getting the most from a GP appointment.)
"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."
When deciding what treatment to offer you, your doctor is likely to follow the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines. These set out recommendations for different kinds of conditions based on evidence for what helps.
The most common treatments recommended for mental health problems are talking therapies and psychiatric medication. But treatments work differently from person to person, and it's not always possible to predict what will suit you best. You might have to try different things to find out what works for you. So it's important to keep talking to your doctor about how you're feeling, and letting them know what you want. (See our pages on talking to your GP, understanding your options and making yourself heard for tips.)
"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."
Whatever treatment you're offered, your healthcare provider should aim to deliver it within a reasonable amount of time and in a reasonable location. You can:
If you're offered medication you can:
However, there are likely to be limits to when and where you receive treatment. Some services only exist in certain areas. And unfortunately, there can be long waiting times to access talking therapies through the NHS.
(See our page on facing and overcoming barriers for information on what you can do if the treatment you want isn't available.)
This information was published in December 2017. We will revise it in 2020.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.