Seeking help for a mental health problem
A guide to taking the first steps, making empowered decisions and getting the right support for you.
How can I seek help through the private sector?
Although it's not an option for many people because of the financial cost, you might feel it's the right choice for you to see a private nurse, doctor, psychiatrist or therapist – either alongside NHS support, or instead of it. This page covers:
Some common reasons for considering seeking help through the private sector might be:
- You're not receiving the support you want from your NHS GP.
- You want a second (or third) opinion, and your NHS GP isn't able to provide it.
- You want to access support more quickly, for example if there is a long waiting list for talking therapies on the NHS in your area.
- You're looking for a specialist treatment or more choice of treatments and providers.
- You want more intensive support, or support over a longer period of time.
- You want access to treatment that isn't available through the NHS.
- You want to attend a private hospital or clinic.
Private GPs, nurses or clinics
- ask your NHS GP to refer you or make a suggestion
- search online for a private healthcare provider and contact them directly, or use an online listing service.
I tried going through the NHS but counselling wasn't available out of work hours, which just wasn't viable for me. I did some research on local therapists in my area, sent a few emails regarding fees and availability, and picked the best fit for me.
Private counsellors or therapists
There are a number of different organisations who can help you find a therapist such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). Any therapist you find through this website will have signed up to the BACP's ethical framework, which means they must:
- behave in a professional and safe way towards you
- explain their responsibilities regarding confidentiality
- tell you their complaints procedure if you ask for it.
(See our page on finding a therapist for more information.)
Private healthcare can be expensive, so you may need to think carefully about how – or if – you will be able to afford it. Private therapy costs will usually depend on:
- what the therapist charges
- how many sessions you go for
- how often you go.
Some private therapists offer a sliding scale of payment depending on your circumstances.
There are two main payment options:
- Paying the healthcare provider directly. Your healthcare provider should explain any treatment or appointment costs clearly beforehand. Some providers may have payment plans that allow you to pay in instalments.
- Taking out private healthcare insurance. Insurance can cover part or all of the cost of your treatment, depending on your policy. Not all policies cover psychiatric treatment or pre-existing conditions, so before taking out any policy you should check it carefully and make sure you understand what it covers. (See our pages on insurance cover and mental health for more information.)
This information was published in December 2017.
This page is currently under review. All content was accurate when published.
References and bibliography available on request.
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