How to get help

If you think you may have a mental health problem go and see your GP. Doctors aren’t just there to help us with our physical problems they can help us stay mentally healthy too.

Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed – your doctor will understand and try to help you. If the doctor thinks you are ill he or she may prescribe some treatment for you. This might be talking therapy such as counselling or a course of medicine. It will help you feel much better.

Children under 16 years of age can receive medical treatment, including treatment for mental disorders, when a parent gives consent. If a child is in care, the local authority takes the parent’s place. A child can give consent for their own treatment if they are considered to have enough understanding to make such a choice. A person over 16 years of age is considered to be an adult and can therefore make their own decisions about treatment.

Your doctor may decide you need some extra help and support to get better. He or she may refer you to a team of specially trained mental health workers such as psychiatrists and social workers. These teams work in child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in health centres, GP’s surgeries and in hospitals.

Who’s who?

Here are some of the people you might come across if you need to receive treatment for a mental health problem:


A GP is a type of doctor who is usually the first point of contact for people who have medical problems. People can see their GP at a surgery, at an emergency centre or if necessary at their homes.

GPs deal with people who may have physical, psychological and/or social problems as well as teaching people how to prevent illness and promoting healthy lifestyles


A counsellor helps people talk about how they are feeling about life. They listen and try to suggest new ways of looking at things. Counselling can help people deal with emotional problems and move on from difficult situations.

It’s important to remember that a counsellor doesn’t offer advice – they help people make their own decisions.


A psychiatrist is a medically qualified doctor who has a specialist training in mental health. Psychiatrists work with people of all ages who have mental health problems.


Psychologists work with people, focusing in particular on the mind and human behaviour. They try to use scientific explanations for why people act in certain ways. They then apply this information to find practical ways to help people.

Art/music/drama therapist

Art, music and dance/movement therapists are therapists specialising in a particular form of psychotherapy. They help people develop new ways to communicate what they are thinking or feeling by using the medium in which they specialise (i.e. art, music or dance).


Psychotherapists help people explore their thoughts and feelings and how these are connected to their relationships and behaviour. By understanding more about this, people can find new ways of managing which help them to feel better and to find their own best solutions to difficulties.

Social worker

Social workers help people access services and support. They help people who are having problems with anything from housing to mental health issues, schooling to addiction.

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