By Leila Woodhouse, Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer at Mind
For most of us, our local GP practice is the first place we’ll go when we’re unwell. It’s there to help us with our mental health as well as our physical health. At Mind, we want everyone with a mental health problem who visits their GP practice to get the support that best suits their needs. That’s what our campaign, Find the Words is all about.
It’s thought that around one third of GP appointments are related to mental health. However, it’s not always easy having that first conversation about your deepest feelings with your GP, someone you may hardly know. For this reason we’ve put together some resources including a guide and an animation, to help you talk to your GP or practice nurse about the things you might find hard to express and to make the most of your appointment.
You might want to speak to your GP or practice nurse if you’re:
- Worrying more than usual
- Finding it hard to enjoy life
- Not sleeping
- Having thoughts and feelings that are difficult to cope with, and that are having an impact on your day-to-day life.
It’s always OK to ask for help, even if you’re not sure you are experiencing a specific mental health problem.
What should I say to my GP?
It can be hard to talk about your mental health – especially when you’re not feeling well. But it’s important to remember that there is no wrong way to tell someone how you’re feeling.
- Be honest and open
- Focus on how you feel, not on whether or not you meet a diagnosis
- Try to explain how you’ve been feeling over the past few months or weeks, and anything that has changed
- Use words that feel natural to you – you don’t have to say specific things to get help
- Try not to worry that your problem is too small or unimportant – everyone deserves help and your GP or practice nurse is there to support you.
Talking to your GP or practice nurse about your mental health at an early stage can help you to stay well. They can:
Offer you support and treatments
- Make a diagnosis
- Refer you to a specialist service.
How can I prepare?
Appointments with a GP or practice nurse are often very short, so being prepared can help you get the most out of it.
Write down what you want to say in advance, and take your notes in with you.
- Give yourself enough time to get to your appointment, so that you don’t feel rushed.
- Think about taking someone with you to support you, like a close friend or family member.
- Highlight or print out any information you’ve found that helps you explain how you’re feeling.
- If you have a few things to talk about, you can ask for a longer appointment (you’ll need to do this when you’re booking it in).
Not getting the support you need?
Getting the right help to cope with a mental health problem doesn’t always happen straight away, and there may be times where you’re not happy with the support you’re getting. There are steps you can take to raise concerns and access help in other ways.
If you feel you haven’t had the support you needed for a mental health problem, we have information that may help you.
Over the next few years we will be campaigning for improved mental health support from primary care services such as GP practices, so people who visit their GP practice to get the support for their mental health that best suits their needs.
For more information
About our Find the Words campaign, visit our website.
For information on a range of topics, including types of mental health problem, where to get help, medication and alternative treatments and advocacy, contact us through our Mind Infoline (9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday):
Call: 0300 123 3393