Trouble getting help for mental health?

Tried to get help with your mental health problem but feel you’re being ignored? Whether it’s a crappy doctor, a long waiting list, or a bad experience with a therapist you didn’t like, we’re here to help you through this tough time.

It takes guts to admit you think you’ve got a mental health problem and to ask for help. And if the support you ask for doesn’t end up helping, then you can feel frustrated and hopeless.

It’s tempting to give up, especially if everything feels so hard anyway. But try not to let a bad experience put you off. Sometimes you have to persevere to get the help you deserve.

“I went to my GP but they didn’t help and now I feel even worse.”

There’s nothing worse than leaving your appointment feeling as though you shouldn’t have bothered. It’s easy to think that every GP is like that. But your doctor might not have understood you, or they might not have had good mental health training.

Make an appointment to see a different GP – you don’t have to give a reason. Try telling the receptionist you’d like to see a GP who has mental health experience if possible.

Your GP can only make a decision based on what you tell them. Be as open as possible about how you feel, what happened in the first appointment and what help you’re looking for. This can be difficult, so try writing it down beforehand and bring it with you.

If you’re still unimpressed, consider changing practices completely. Mind also offers advocacy specifically for mental health. (An advocate is someone who can speak for you in times of need.)

“I went to my GP and they referred me, but I haven’t heard anything since.”

Getting referred can feel like a really positive step, but what if weeks pass without hearing anything?

If you’ve heard nothing at all, ask your GP how long you should expect to wait and check you’re definitely in the system.

If you have a letter with a number of where you’ve been referred to, try calling them to find out more. You could ask a friend or parent to do this for you if you’re scared.

If you’re still not getting anywhere, advocates at PALS or Mind can help you complain. In some areas you can also self-refer to NHS counselling services.

While you’re waiting, think about supporting yourself in other ways, such as online counselling, a local Mindfulness course or self-help books and programs.

“I don’t like my therapist and I don’t want to go back.”

Opening up to your therapist or counsellor can be difficult. Therapy challenges your beliefs and thought patterns and you might revisit difficult emotions and experiences. Sometimes you feel worse before you feel better.

Although therapy itself can be challenging, the therapist themselves should help you feel comfortable and understood. If this isn’t happening, then you might need to ask to see someone else.

It’s fine to bring this up at any point – even in the middle of your sessions. Therapists are trained to work with difficult and honest emotions. They understand that not all personalities fit and you have a right to get the most out of your therapy.

If you don’t feel able to talk to them, they’ll usually be someone in the same service that can help. Call and say something like, “Who should I speak to if I am unhappy with my therapist?”

If you feel completely stuck, go back to your GP and ask them for help.

I’ve had a course of therapy but it didn’t work. Is that it?”

Therapy on the NHS is often short-term, usually between six and 12 sessions. This is enough for some people, but it’s really common to feel you need more.

If you’re worried about your treatment ending, talk to your therapist about it. If you’ve already finished, then return to your GP, explain how you feel and ask them for more support.

“I want to go private but can’t afford it.”

Sometimes going private can seem like your only option. Mind and other local charities offer free or low-cost talking therapies. Your GP will often know of good private therapists locally.

If you’re a student, look on your college or uni website. Many places offer free therapy to students.

You can search for credible people on The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) website. Some places offer low-cost therapy depending on your income. They might also offer cheaper counselling with (supervised) trainee therapists. Most offer free first sessions to help you work out if they’re right. Annoyingly, there’s no list of places that offer cheaper therapy, but it’s definitely worth asking around.

Above all, don’t give up! Sometimes you have to make a stand to get the help you need. It’s hard to do it alone, so keep talking to friends and family. The Mix has an online community where you can share your frustrations, get tips, and help each other move forwards.


Next Steps

  • Mind offers advice and support to people with mental health problems. Their helpline runs nine to six from Monday to Friday. 0300 123 3393
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.


MH support

By Clare Foster

Updated on 29-Sep-2015