Where do I start?

If you’re worried about your mental health or concerned about someone else, you might want to start by having a conversation with your GP. In this section, we look at some questions you might have.

Do GPs treat mental health difficulties?

Many people think of their GP as the person to see when they are having physical symptoms of ill health. But GPs regularly see people with mental distress.

I’m nervous about telling my GP about my mental health difficulty

If you’re nervous about talking to your GP about a mental health difficulty, it might help to organise your thoughts by writing a few things down. St John of God’s hospital has a leaflet called “How to get the best from your GP”. Click here to download the leaflet.

We’ve also put together some tips that might help.

Things to tell your GP

These are some of the things you might want to speak to your GP about:
• symptoms (e.g. low mood)
• how your sleep and appetite have been affected (e.g. waking early,little appetite)
• thoughts or emotions you are having frequently, including thoughts of suicide
• triggers (e.g. work stress)

Things to think about

You might also want to think about:
• how long you’ve been having these difficulties
• If they’ve stayed the same or gotten worse
• how your relationships or work life have been affected

Other tips

Other tips:
• Keep a diary of symptoms before your visit
• Ask questions if you don’t understand
• Bring along someone you trust for support

What can I expect from my GP?

Your GP can help in many ways, including support, advice, medication and referrals to other services. Here we look at what support you should expect from your GP, as well as information on medication and referrals to other services.

What can I expect from my GP?

Your GP can help in many ways:
• Support, advice and lifestyle management
• Medication
• Linking you in with community supports
• Recommending or referring you to a counsellor or psychotherapist
• Referring you on for treatment in specialist services

What kind of support and advice can I expect from my GP?

In many ways, your GP may be the best person to support and advise you. They will know a bit about where you come from and who you are, and they should know about supports in your local area.
They can also advise you on changes to your lifestyle that could help you manage your mental health difficulty. For example, they could advise you on regular exercise or meditation, which helps some people manage their mood.

What about medication?

Your GP can also prescribe medication, which is sometimes used to help reduce symptoms of distress.
Ask your GP about your medication before you start taking it. It is important to talk through risks and benefits and potential side effects, and to make sure you fully understand what you are taking.

Where can I find information on my medication between GP visits?

You can also ask your pharmacist about your medication if you have questions between visits. Ask to speak to them in private if you are concerned about confidentiality.
St John of God’s hospital has an online National Mental Health Medicines Information service. It is a website that has information about lots of drugs that are used to treat mental health difficulties. It answers questions such as how different medications work and how they interact with each other.
Click here to visit the Medicines Information Website.

Who can my GP refer me on to?

Your GP can refer you on to other services in primary care, or to a counsellor or psychotherapist.
They may also refer you for treatment in specialist services, such as to a Community Mental health team. We’ll talk more about these a bit later.

How can I find a GP?

The HSE website provides listings of GPs in your local area, as well as details about how to contact them. Click here for listings of GPs in your local area.