Looking after our mental wellbeing is as vital as looking after our physical health but it can be difficult to know where to start and what types of support and information there are available. Talking with our GP is often the first-step that we take to opening up about our mental health and asking for the help that we need. Knowing what help our GP’s can provide, and how to make the most out of appointments is important to ensure we get the help and information that we need to stay well.
When should you visit your GP?
Many people will often avoid speaking with their GP when they experience problems with their mental health. However, living with the symptoms of mental ill-health can be difficult and can lead to people developing more serious problems if help isn’t found. If you’ve noticed any changes in the way that you are thinking, feeling or behaving during the past few weeks or months that are concerning you and causing distress, it is advisable to speak with your GP as soon as possible. These things may include:
- Feeling low or constantly anxious or worrying
- Thinking negative thoughts about yourself
- Hearing or experiencing things that other people don’t
- Thoughts about hurting yourself or others
- Big changes in your moods – feeling full of energy for some time and then angry or upset after
- If your sleep is being negatively affected by how you’re feeling or the thoughts you’re having
How your GP can help
There are a number of ways that your GP can help when you talk to them about your mental health:
- Your GP can ask questions about how you’ve been feeling and the thoughts you’ve been having – which may help you better make sense of what you are going through and what support is available
- May refer you to local NHS mental health services, such as Brighton and Hove Wellbeing Service or the Assessment and Treatment Service (ATS), who are able to offer individual support and/or group Talking Therapies – such as CBT and Counselling
- Your GP can prescribe medication (if it’s appropriate), or make changes to your medication based on how it’s working for you.
- Recommend simple lifestyle changes, such as the Five Ways to Wellbeing, that can help you self-manage your symptoms and improve your mental wellbeing. Your GP may also recommend other self-management options such as Books on Prescription, and particular wellbeing activities like Mindfulness.
- Offer information and signposting to non-NHS mental health Day Services, Wellbeing Groups and Activities such as: Brighton Housing Trust Mental Health & Wellbeing Service, Southdown Mental Health Recovery Service or wellbeing groups such as Grow.
- Your GP may decide to refer you to a specialist service if they think that would be more helpful, such as the NHS OCD Clinic or The Brighton and Hove Eating Disorder Service (BHEDS) if there’s a service that better suits your needs.
- Your GP may invite you back for another appointment in a few weeks’ time to see if there’s any changes in your mental health and the thoughts and feelings that you’ve been having.
Need more advice about how to look after your mental health?
Getting the most out of your GP
For lots of us, finding the words to ask for help can be a struggle – even when we’re feeling well. But if you’re trying to open up about your mental health for the first time it can feel even harder. There are a number of ways that you can get the most out of your GP appointment, such as writing down what you’ve been experiencing and planning what you will say.
There are a number of free resources that detail how to make the most out of your appointments, written by leading mental health organisations:
This easy-ready guide by Mind offers some quick and simple answers to common questions about speaking with a GP about mental health, offering suggestions and guidance.
This practical guide by the Mental Health Foundation details what to expect from your appointment and what your GP can do for you. By using the tips and advice in the booklet you’ll be able to speak to your GP about your mental health with greater confidence
Patients receive the best care when they work in partnership with doctors. This guide explains how you can help to create a partnership with your doctor. Much of it is simply common sense, but following it should help you get the most out of your time with your doctor.
If you’re a younger person, or you care for a younger person, you may want to have a look at the Doc Ready Website. Doc Ready is a digital tool that helps young people to prepare and make the most out of mental health related GP visits. It helps young people to know what to expect during a GP consultation, plan what to say and record the outcomes of their appointments.
Online Video Guides
These two videos offer guidance on how to speak with your doctor about your mental health, and tips and tools that you can use to get the most out of your appointment. The first video is by Mind, and is part of their #findthewords campaign that aims to make it easier for people to talk about mental health. The second video shows local Dr Rebecca Jarvis interviewed by Mind in Brighton and Hove talking about discussing mental health with your GP. Dr Jarvis encourages people to talk to their GP about mental health concerns, advises what people can do to help prepare for the appointment, discusses what help a GP can give and more.
How to register with a GP
Everyone who lives in Brighton and Hove is entitled to register with a GP. This is the case for people from all walks of life, including students who are only based here for some of the year, and people who may have temporary addresses, including the homeless. Practices generally take patients from within a certain geographical boundary of their surgery; the exact size of the boundary differs between practices.
If you’re not registered with a GP, or you’re not happy with the service that your current GP is providing you, there are a large number of GP surgeries across Brighton & Hove. The Brighton & Hove CCG Website allows you to search for GP surgeries by Postcode, to find a list of surgeries that are closest to you. You can then call them to check that they are accepting new patients from your area and register.
Need help registering with a GP?
Provide a free and confidential service in Brighton and Hove. They can help you to:
- Register with your local GP or Clinic
- Access specialist services
- Receive medical advice
- Apply for free prescriptions, eye tests and dental care
click here for more information
If you are homeless or in temporary accommodation and not registered with a GP you can register with Brighton Homeless Healthcare