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A guide to taking the first steps, making empowered decisions and getting the right support for you.
Seeking help for a mental health problem can be difficult, and you might sometimes face barriers to getting the treatment you need and deserve. This page covers:
Sometimes your doctor might not offer you a particular treatment, even when it is available. Possible reasons for this might be:
If your doctor won’t offer you a particular treatment you can always ask them for an explanation, and ask if there is an alternative that they can suggest.
"I've found that [my] care has varied widely, and the primary issue I have encountered absolutely everywhere is the lack of signposting to the care options available."
Unfortunately, not all treatments are equally available across the country. And even in places where the service you need exists, there can often be very long waiting times to access treatment through the NHS. You can ask your doctor for a different kind of treatment, but this won’t always be possible because of cost or availability.
We understand how frustrating and upsetting this can be. You might be able to find an alternative option to explore in our page on where to start, and our section on what if I've tried everything? might offer more ideas you could try. It's not an option for everyone, but some people consider treatment through the private sector.
If you've already explored all the options your doctor has offered, and you haven't found the help you're looking for yet, it can feel like you've tried everything and nothing works. Unfortunately finding the help you need can sometimes be really difficult, and can take time.
But it's important to remember that you're not alone, and that you deserve support.
"Getting help can feel like a mammoth task at the beginning and it’s very easy to feel disheartened if the outcome isn’t what you’d hoped for. But there is always somewhere else you can get help and the majority of people working and volunteering in mental health do genuinely care about helping you get the support you need for your recovery."
Unfortunately, some people can have very negative experiences with the healthcare system. Our legal pages offer lots of information about your legal rights, and what you can do to make sure your rights are being respected.
In some situations you might feel so unhappy with how you've been treated that you want to make a formal complaint about it. This might happen if you feel that:
You can make a complaint by:
(See our legal pages on complaining about health and social care for more information.
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.