How to prepare for a GP appointment
It can be nerve-wracking speaking to someone that you may not know well about your mental health.
You may be worried about bothering your GP with your problem. Your GP is there to help you with your mental health as well as your physical - around one third of all GP appointments are related to mental health.
You can also take a family member or friend along with you to the appointment if it will make you feel more at ease.
Make sure you take time to prepare for your appointment. Write down any main points that you want to talk about as well as any questions you might have. This could include information about how you are feeling and how this is affecting your day-to-day life, as well as any physical symptoms.
The GP may talk through some possible options with you which might include:
- Self-referral to Improving Access to Psychological Therapies which supports people with a range of talking treatments.
- Blood tests or other investigations.
- Referring you to a specialist mental health team.
- Using a social prescribing service (through self-referral).
- Prescribing a medication.
- Ways of improving your general health and wellbeing such as exercise, Mindfulness or cutting back on alcohol or smoking.
- Peer support or a support group.
If your GP prescribes a medication, they should talk to you about how this should help and tell you about any possible side effects.
You can always ask your GP why a particular treatment has been suggested and if other things might help. If you need to – make some notes about what is discussed.
There is a local campaign called Me + My Medicines, led by patients and supported by clinical staff, which aims to help people raise concerns and use their medicines better. This means that if you, your family or your friends have any issues or concerns about your medicines, no matter what they are, you should speak to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse to enable you to find a solution that most suits you.
- The Doc Ready website can guide you through preparing for a GP appointment step-by-step.
- The mental health charity Mind has produced a helpful leaflet called 'Find the words' and a video about talking to your GP about mental health. You can also read their guide to seeking help for a mental health problem.
- Another publication called 'How to talk to your GP about your mental health' produced by the Mental Health Foundation talks in more detail about going to see your GP.
If you are not registered with a GP, NHS England has information about how to find and register with a GP surgery. There are leaflets about how to register with a GP if you're homeless, if you're a refugee or asylum seeker or if you belong to the gypsy, traveller or Roma community. There is also information about visitors from abroad seeking a GP.