Mental health problems are common with around 25% of the population believed to be suffering from some form of mental health problem at any point in time. Anyone suffering from a mental health problem can access proper treatment and most who do seek help will make a complete recovery but unfortunately, there are still people who are afraid of admitting that they cannot cope or that they need help and will suffer unnecessary mental distress due to lack of understanding about their illness or awareness of what help is available. So what mental health services are available to anyone suffering from mental illness?
The first point of contact is your doctor. They will be able to make a full assessment of your symptoms and your physical and mental health in general as well as take into consideration any other factors involved including any family history of mental illness in order to make an accurate diagnosis because an accurate diagnosis is essential if the right help and assistance is to be offered. For most people, a simple visit to the doctor may be all that is required to put them on the road to recovery.
However, your doctor might feel that you could also benefit from other mental health services so once he or she has made a diagnosis they will be able to start you on a suitable treatment programme which could include medication and/or referral to other professionals or specialists in the community mental health team as required, for example, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, various types of counsellors or therapists and so on.
The Community Mental Health Team (CMHT)
It may be that you require specialist skills in order to help you cope with your mental illness and as one person couldn’t conceivably be an expert in every single area, you could be referred to someone in the community mental health team. The community mental health team will vary depending on which area that you live, some may be attached to a hospital or work from a doctors surgery and others could possibly have their own clinic in a separate building but typically, they consist of professionals such as psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses who may also be trained to deal with specific problems or behaviours, clinical psychologists, occupational therapists, social workers, and various other therapists and counsellors.
It is quite likely that one person will be appointed as your key worker and will be liaising with you on a regular basis and visiting you at home. This person could be a social worker, a nurse, some type of therapist or quite commonly, a community psychiatric nurse or CPN.
The CPN will assess your progress on a regular basis, will identify and help you deal with any problems you might have and put you in touch with others who can help, they will monitor your mediation and any effects of that medication and will generally offer support. They will work closely with other professionals in the team so that everyone is aware of any particular issues or challenges that need to be dealt with. The CMHT will also regularly inform your doctor about your progress, your medication and any other issues involved in your case.
It might be that you need help from other professionals. For example, an occupational therapist can help you regain some independence in your life if you are suffering from any disabilities, they can help you to do things for yourself and improve your confidence in areas such as dressing, washing and other practical skills. Social workers can help with many social problems such as housing needs, financial issues and maybe parenting or child care challenges. Basically, the Community Mental Health Team enables you to access the right kind of help from professionals who are trained in a specific area.
It might be that you need to spend some time in hospital to get over a particularly difficult episode of mental illness or where it is considered appropriate but this decision is not taken lightly. Hospitals can offer safety and protection and many people will voluntarily admit themselves to hospital in order to get the right assistance and support. However, there are also compulsory admissions made under the Mental Health Act in order to protect the person themselves or those around them. For some people, the thought of admission to hospital can be frightening but it is important to remember that a stay in hospital can be a lifesaver and hospitals are there to help and are better equipped to deal with particularly severe cases of mental illness.
Family and friends can be instrumental in helping someone who is suffering from mental health problems to progress and regain control of their lives and as such are an extremely important part of any support network. There are also numerous other agencies, support organisations, and charities offering help to people suffering from various mental health problems. Some will also tackle issues related to mental health by raising awareness in the community and others can provide information, advice and support to people who are affected by mental health problems in their family. You can ask your doctor or mental health professional what other assistance is available in your area.