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 feel complicated, and you might sometimes feel like healthcare professionals aren’t listening to how you feel. This page covers the following ideas to help you feel more in control and empowered:
"I feel, as a patient, I am the expert on me. So I know more than anyone else what is going on in my head, and I know what I need."
Although your doctor should give you the information you need to make informed decisions, you can also do your own research. This might help you find other options that you can suggest or ask about. For example, you can:
"In the past six years I have had counselling, a brief attempt at CBT [cognitive behavioural therapy] and routine meetings with mental health doctors, but the thing I have found most helpful is open online forums full of people like me."
Most aspects of healthcare are covered by clinical guidelines and policies, which outline:
Examples of these documents include:
These should be accessible and easy to find using a web search, but you can also ask your doctor or healthcare provider to show them to you.
An advocate is an independent person who is there to represent your opinion and help make your voice heard. This can be extremely helpful if you are finding it hard to let healthcare professionals know what you want, or you're facing barriers to getting support.
An advocate can:
A friend, family member or carer might be willing to act as your advocate informally. Or you could consider professional advocacy services. (See our pages on advocacy for more information, including how to find an advocate.)
"My parents and sister were my speakers for me. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for them and their strength and fighting attitude to get me help."
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.