If your mental health problems are severe or longer lasting, or the treatment your doctor has offered you isn't working, they can refer you to specialist mental health services. This page provides a brief overview of the following services, and explains where you can find more information:
Community mental health teams (CMHTs)
CMHTs support people with mental health problems living in the community, and also their carers. The team may include a community psychiatric nurse (CPN), a psychologist, an occupational therapist, a counsellor and a community support worker, as well as a social worker.
Often, a member of the team will be appointed as your care coordinator, to keep in regular contact with you and help plan your care.
Social care is any care or support you need to carry out day-to-day tasks that you are finding difficult. This could include help with managing money or improving relationships, transport to attend appointments or services, or assistance with benefits and housing applications. You can ask your doctor or CMHT to refer you to social services, or you can contact them directly to ask for an assessment.
If you aren’t able to cope on your own at home, there are other options. You can talk through your options with your support worker(s), carers and mental health team. You might be able to access:
- hostels – these are short-term accommodation, with supervision, to help you until you can live more independently.
- residential care homes – these offer a much higher level of support for people with severe mental health problems.
- therapeutic communities – these are for short stays, with group or individual therapy as part of their rehabilitation programmes.
- supported housing schemes – these enable you to live independently, in furnished accommodation, with the back-up of a mental health support worker in case you need extra help.
(See our pages on housing and mental health for more information.)
In most areas, you should have access to a crisis resolution and home treatment team (CRHT). These teams can support you through a crisis at home.
If you do not have access to a local crisis service, you could:
- get an emergency appointment with your doctor
- call the Samaritans
- contact your CMHT if you have been referred to it previously
- go to the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department at a local hospital or call 999 if you are at immediate risk
(See our pages on crisis services for much more information about your options for support during a mental health crisis.)
Campaigning for excellent crisis care
While we know that excellent crisis services do exist, unfortunately they're not consistently available across the UK. We know how frustrating and difficult it can be to cope with services that don't provide the precise help you need, exactly when you need it. That's why we're campaigning to improve crisis care across the country.
To find out more and see how you can get involved, see our crisis care campaign page.
I did take myself to the crisis team at A&E and got some help, [although I was] left to sit on my own for two hours. [After waiting] I was put in touch with the right people – they came to see me while I was there and I had a psych evaluation.
Hospital inpatient services support people with severe mental health problems, or people who are experiencing a crisis. The majority of hospital admissions are voluntary, but if you are assessed and judged to be at risk of harming yourself or others, you can be detained under a section of the Mental Health Act 1983 (often called being sectioned). How long you stay in hospital will depend on your personal situation.
Being treated in hospital can mean you have faster access to treatment, round-the-clock support and are kept safe during a crisis. Some people find hospital a positive experience, while others find it unpleasant as you
might be far away from your support network, in an unfamiliar place or admitted against your will.
If you are treated in hospital, it's important to know your rights. (See our pages on sectioning and hospital admission for more information.)
It began changing for me when one hospital suggested that there was a way forward... they were able to offer me far more time than individuals had.
This information was published in December 2015. We will revise it in 2018.