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Managing mental health

Looking after your mental health is important. You can get support from:

  • the NHS
  • charities and organisations
  • online advice and helplines

You might need to try a few things to find the right support. Everyone manages their mental health differently.

Warning If you need to speak to someone right now

If you are in danger, call 999.

Ring the Samaritans for free on 116 123.

They're always open. You can talk to them about anything. You do not have to wait until you feel in crisis.

If you want to talk to someone about how to get professional help, you can call:

  • Mind information line, 0300 123 3393 (open 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday)
  • Rethink Mental Illness helpline, 0300 5000 927 (open 9.30am to 4pm, Monday to Friday)

Where to get urgent help for mental health (NHS)

Recognising a change in your mental health

If you are going through life changes or a stressful time, you may notice you are:

  • feeling anxious
  • being irritable
  • having worrying thoughts

If this affects your daily life, you might benefit from some support. For example, you might experience changes to your:

  • mood
  • sleep
  • energy levels
  • relationships with friends and family
  • appetite

If you recognise these changes, you can look at what support is available.

Accessing NHS mental health support

The NHS and your GP can offer different types of support. This can include:

  • medication
  • therapy
  • support within the community
  • crisis support

Sometimes you can refer yourself for support. The level of mental health support can depend on your circumstances and where you live.

NHS therapy

If you need mental health therapy, contact the psychological therapies service. This is sometimes known as Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT). You can refer yourself or ask your GP about the service.

The service is available to anyone who:

  • does not already have NHS support for their mental health
  • lives in England
  • is aged 18 and over

Support can include:

After completing the online form, you should receive a letter within 6 weeks. This will say what support they will offer you and how you can access it.

Find an NHS psychological therapies service (NHS)

Social prescribing

Your GP can refer you to community schemes such as:

  • cooking and healthy eating
  • volunteering
  • sports and arts activities
  • befriending

This is called 'social prescribing'.

What is social prescribing? (Healthy London Partnership video on YouTube)

Social prescribing can vary widely, so ask your GP what's available in your area.

They may refer you to a link worker in England or a community connector in Wales who can help you think about your health and wellbeing needs.

You may need to pay for activities or sessions, but these are usually discounted.

Other ways to get mental health support

There are other ways to get mental health support. You might want a second opinion or to get more advice if the NHS cannot offer everything you need. For example, you might see an NHS therapist once a month. If you need support in between your appointments, a charity might also be able to help.

You can get a second opinion by asking to speak with a different GP or doctor. If you would like support with this or to make a complaint, contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS).

What is PALS? (NHS)

Warning Benefits and mental health

If your mental health means you find it hard to work or do daily tasks, you could claim benefits. These will depend on the criteria, but can include depression or anxiety.

Benefits and mental health

Support from charities and organisations can depend on where you live. The Hub of Hope is a national database for mental health support. You can search for support and services that are available to you.

Mental health organisations and charities local to me (Hub of Hope)

It might help to talk about how you are feeling. This can include talking about what is going on in your life. You do not need to be in crisis to contact a helpline. Helplines and support include:

The Mix supports adults under 25. They have a helpline, email and live chat service where you can talk to an adviser about anything you're worried about.

CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) runs a confidential information service. You can call or use webchat. Staff are trained to listen, support, inform and signpost. Open from 5pm to midnight.

The Silver Line is a free and confidential helpline for older people. They provide information, friendship and advice to older people. It's open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Mind's Peer Support Service links you with local people to share your experiences.

Foundation for people with learning disabilities is improving access to mental health and has an online forum.

Finding a counsellor or therapist

If you want to speak with a therapist, there are several ways you can access counselling:

  • NHS therapists through your GP
  • charity and third sector therapists
  • therapists through your place of work or education
  • private therapists

How to find a therapist (Mind)

If you are looking for a private therapist, think about what support you need:

  • short or long-term
  • the type of therapy you want
  • in person, on video or on the phone

Types of talking therapy (Mind)

When you know the type of therapy you want, you can look for a therapist in your area.

Find a counsellor near you (Counselling Directory)

You might want to think about if they:

  • specialise in what you are struggling with
  • have worked with disabled people before
  • offer a free or reduced taster session
  • make you feel comfortable

It can take time to feel comfortable with a therapist and get to know each other. If you are unsure if the therapist is right for you, you can change.

Private sector mental health support (Mind)

Supporting your own mental health

There are things you can do to manage your mental health. If you are finding things difficult, be kind to yourself. Take things at your own pace.

There are some apps to manage and record your mental health. You can download these to your phone so you can use them wherever you are.

Mental health apps (NHS)

You might find that being surrounded by nature can help to clear your head and feel grounded. This is sometimes known as ecotherapy. Your own garden or local park can help.

About ecotherapy programmes (Mind)

Relaxation techniques can help some people. Being able to relax your mind can help if you are feeling stressed or anxious. This can take a while to get used to, but there are lots of techniques you can try.

Relaxation and mindfulness exercises (Mind)

Breathing exercises for stress (NHS)

Looking after yourself

It’s important to look after yourself, especially when you’re struggling with your mental health. You can ask others for support. Try to take small steps, such as:

  • doing something you enjoy
  • eating a healthy meal
  • sleeping when you can
  • doing some light exercise

If you are finding any of these things difficult, you might find online advice helps:

Exercising from home

Food and mood (Mind)

Mindfulness self-help techniques

Mindfulness is a technique to improve mental wellbeing by paying more attention to your thoughts and feelings or the world around you.

What is mindfulness? (Mind)

Mindfulness (NHS)

These apps could help with mindfulness:

Mindshift can help you develop strategies to deal with difficult situations. It’s based on CBT techniques.

MyLife meditation app offers short, guided meditations, yoga and acupressure videos tuned to how you feel.

Clear Fear is a free app for helping you to recognise, manage and reduce your anxiety and fear.

Journaling or keeping a diary allows you to keep track of symptoms and process emotions. You also can write about the good things that have happened that day. Some people find it relaxing and enjoy focusing on how they are feeling.

Journaling for mental health (blog post)

Supporting your child

Supporting a child can be hard. Here are some resources that may help.

Psychological First Aid: Supporting Children and Young People (free online training from Public Health England)

Combined Minds is a free app for parents of young people with anxiety.

Your GP can offer mental health support for your child. The NHS has a children and young people’s mental health service (CYPMHS). This can also be referred to as CAMHS (children and adolescent mental health services).

Children and young people's mental health services (NHS)

Last reviewed by Scope on: 23/09/2021

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