It cannot be understated what a huge step it is to realise that you’re experiencing challenges. An even bigger one to access mental health services in order to do something about it.
Knowing which service to access or the level of support you need may feel bewildering at a time when you’re in real need for clarity.
We also advise that in the first instance you should consult your GP. Always be very clear with the receptionist that you’re experiencing mental health issues and they will do everything they can to get you seen as soon as possible.
If you feel that you can’t wait or you feel you’re at crisis point – feeling like you can’t cope or having thoughts of harming yourself or others – then present yourself to Accident and Emergency and they can get you assessed as an emergency.
It’s important to understand that presenting yourself to A&E does not affect your rights or your options for treatment. It may highlight the need for more advanced treatments earlier but you still have the right to review your options just as you would if you went to see your doctor.
Although some view a diagnosis as a negative and if that diagnosis results in pigeonholing and stigma then we’re inclined to agree.
However a diagnosis in the case of mental health issues helps to inform the professionals – and therefore the individual – the kinds of support that would be most suitable.
Once you have a diagnosis you are in a position to move forward with getting the support that you need.
What Help is Available?
Unfortunately mental health provision is something of a postcode lottery. The services available in Oxford aren’t necessarily the same as Dorset and nor is the process to access them standardised.
Steps2Wellbeing, a service provision in Dorset and Southampton, works on a self-referral basis whereas other services require referral via a medical professional.
This isn’t a major barrier as emergencies can be dealt with swiftly, but it’s something to be aware of.
When it comes to actually choosing a service provision that’s a good fit, you need to consider the following:
- The nature of your challenges
- The severity – either perceived or diagnosed
- How best you feel you can be supported
- What your outcomes are
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to accept any form of help. You do, however, have to accept the consequences of that decision.
Assuming you wish to access services then following your assessment you will be presented with a number of options. Again, depending on your desired outcomes, some options may not be suitable for you but you will have each service explained in turn.
Unless absolutely necessary, most medical and mental health professionals will avoid hospitalisation if at all possible.
What’s Right for You
Ultimately which ever route you go down, be it talking therapies, psychotherapy, taking medication, it has to be right for you.
It’s easy for experts to extoll the virtues of their preferred route to mental good health but ultimately if you don’t agree then you’ll never engage with the service and it won’t help you.
Person centred approach exists to ensure that you get the support you need in the way you feel it will work best so you are able to live your life the way you choose and to meet your objectives.
The one thing that remains consistent for all forms of mental health support is that you need to want to do something about your circumstances. Recovery is a very personal journey.
The Mental Health Foundation outlines research that has found important factors on the road to recovery include:
- good relationships
- financial security
- satisfying work
- personal growth
- the right living environment
- developing one's own cultural or spiritual perspectives
- developing resilience to possible adversity or stress in the future.
In Dorset there is the Recovery Education Centre which is jointly led by Dorset Healthcare and Dorset Mental Health Forum which is a peer led charity. It provides education and training for people who are affected by mental health problems, focusing on self-management, self-determination, choice and responsibility. Courses are held at various locations across the county, details of how to access can be found here.
Taking the first step to access help and support is challenging however services like ours exist specifically to help you not just to work through your challenges, but to live your life as fully as possible.
Contact Encompass Dorset today to find out how we can help you or someone you care about.