Mental health services provided by your GP: A short-term solution?

Over the last 10 years or so I have been battling with anxiety and depression, for one reason or another primarily trying to access mental health services, last year I decided to change GP’s at our doctors surgery because the whole accessing mental health situation really just got between us and it broke down.

Having a key central GP in most difficult times when you are vulnerable can beone of the most critical decisions you can make that you have some degree of control over, I went through the list of GP’s at our surgery, who I had met, any new ones, they all have their photo’s on the wall as you enter, their approach, behaviour, could I work with them and clinical expertise, then went with my instinct to meet someone I had never met before, this has been one of the most refreshing relationships I have formed in many years along with our practice manager.

You may have had some bad experiences in the NHS with GP’s etc, overall I have been very lucky during my time at our GP surgery, even with some difficulties with health, meeting someone one off it does not matter who you meet but on an on going basis is crucial, someone to journey alongside you can be life changing who never gives up on you and genuinely cares is rare, most of the time you are just a number to them so they can get their salary but this GP is very different to all I have ever seen and very honoured to have her as my clinician.

As with any new relationship you can be uncertain and have anxieties for how this may work in practice & have to go through motions of re-building trust, fast forward 7 months into the relationship, this astute clinician has decided to go the extra mile with me on many different angles but on the matter of mental health this is what we have done to-date.

We went from meeting monthly to fortnightly; now weekly, sometimes twice a week for a double slot but usually lasts for around 30 minutes, this is more than what other people at the surgery are entitled to so you may wish to ask the GP to meet more often, don’t be ashamed of always be in the waiting area instead think of the benefits they can give, there should be no stigma or embarrassment at all.

The surgery online appointment systems only allow me to book appointments up to three at a time; at any one time I have 8 in the calendar and they allow me if I do not want this to cancel on the day.

We have had a period of exploring all options medication, therapies and voluntary support, I encourage people to pursue everything out there and discuss this with the GP but doors just have not really been working out as I would have liked so we have been doing things differently in the surgery.

The surgery coordinate all appointments now for me as I don’t like engaging with some of the clinical staff in the services I encounter despite having sat on various governing bodies in the NHS.

We put a sensitive marker on my NHS number to protect me from some quite nasty experiences the mental health teams have behaved and bestowed towards me, you can read my article,

Now we are working through this recovery star model together because we are struggling to access mental health services, we have managed to get some potential work from them we can do in the hope that we can access this in September.

I am highly doubtful but I have accepted that I could do with extra support and now do not resist the GP on this, I know she will do everything in her gifting as will our practice manager to ensure that I can receive it at the right time, for now we are working through this model and she is allowing me the time and space to be able to get things off my chest, to be able to be free from hurts and difficulties, be released of these over the next couple of months, I never thought I could do this with a GP and would have before now been afraid to really ask but she knows I am struggling and has therefore agreed to go the extra mile despite at times I have set backs, this has been a journey up to now, it is two way, give and take but one relationship I value tremendously.

She has given me a reference for work and volunteering opportunities to which one has opened up as a result of this.

The GP I have at present is the best I have ever had, in the midst of adversity, challenge and some very low points were I have thought about moving away or ending things, this has started again to give some light at the end of the dark tunnel, if we had not things would be a lot worse.

If you suffer from mental health have you really explored all the avenues with the GP if you are struggling to access this for whatever reason outside of the GP surgery, if circumstances permit in terms of diary matches then you should absolutely explore matters with them, the worst they can do is say no, she rarely does.

You have to make the most of what you have available to you and I know my GP is just amazing, she will talk to the services before I go and when I meet the psychologist in September for the first meeting is willing to meet us both together.

In the short term I know these will be good foundations to build on to be in a better place and good people do come along your path at the right time, doors close for a reason and if you find the right GP this can make a huge difference to your mental health how they support you so I am glad I have explored different avenues which has been accepted by her and know I can explicitly trust her as a clinician where others I have not been able to.

Hopefully these thought may help someone out there when discussing mental health with your own GP.

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