Mental Health

Recognising that you may have a mental health problem and taking the first steps to get help can be difficult but it is worth remembering that 1 in 4 of us will experience mental health problems at some point in our lives.

Mental health covers a wide range of conditions, including anxiety, depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), phobias, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and dementia, as well as Seasonable Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a form of depression that people often experience in the winter months.

Mental health support available for you and your family in Surrey Heartlands

Within Surrey Heartlands, the Mental Health commissioning team are responsible for purchasing mental health services on behalf of the local Surrey population.

To enable easier access to services a number of them do not require you to speak to your GP first, instead you can go directly to the service for support.

AdultsChildren Choice in mental health care

Trying to understand which of the services best suits your needs can be difficult especially if you have never heard of them. To assist you in how to work out which service may be useful for you please take a look at the Mental Wellbeing section of the Healthy Surrey website. This has lots of useful resources, along with a comprehensive list of local support services for mental health and emotional wellbeing such as:

  • Local services in Surrey for psychological support or money management and debt
  • Veteran support
  • Places to contact in times of crisis

Those who are unable to access online services, can continue to seek emotional wellbeing support through a free confidential helpline:

  • call 0808 802 5000 (in high demand periods, an answerphone service may be in place)
  • SMS Text 07537 432411 (staffed Monday to Friday 9am-2pm).

Additional mental health support

National charities also offer a range of information and advice on mental health topics to improve the quality of life for anyone affected by mental illness and carers. Specialist support from the national charity Carers UK also provides a wealth of resources specifically for families and carers.

If you think you may need further psychological support or are unsure about what help might be best for you, please do contact your GP to seek advice.

Choice in mental health care

Recent changes in law have given patients with mental health conditions the same legal rights as they have had in physical health. This includes legal rights to choice.

Detailed guidance is available that aims to enable these rights to be applied consistently, whilst also acknowledging the need for clinical judgments and decisions according to the circumstances of individual patients.

NHS England guidance: choice of proivder and team in mental health care

What do these rights mean for you and your family?

The legal rights to choice of mental health provider and team apply when :

  • A GP refers a patient for treatment when it is not urgent or an emergency (crisis) and
  • A GP refers a patient for a first appointment with a chosen provider for a new episode of care and
  • The patient is not already under the care of a provider or has previously received treatment from this provider for the same condition and
  • the referral is clinically appropriate and
  • the service and team are led by a consultant or a mental healthcare professional e.g. a psychologist and
  • the chosen provider has a commissioning contract with NHS Surrey Heartlands or NHS England for the required service.

Prior commissioner approval is not required when the above apply.

What about community care?

Community mental health care is covered by the legal rights to choice.

However, it is important to understand that community mental health teams are not obliged to travel to patients outside the area they are commissioned to serve. This means that patients must consider how they would travel to and from their chosen provider.

I have had my first outpatient appointment. Now what?

Once you have chosen your provider and attended your first outpatient appointment, you must be treated by that same provider for the entire episode of care for which you were referred.

That is unless the appropriate service cannot be provided, or professional opinion is that a patient is unsuitable to receive the relevant service.

When do the rights to choice not apply?

If any of the following describe your situation, the legal rights to choice do not apply.

Where a patient is:

  • already receiving mental health care following an elective referral for the same condition
  • referred to a service that is commissioned by a local authority, for example a drug and alcohol service (unless commissioned under a Section 75 Agreement)
  • accessing urgent or emergency (crisis) care
  • accessing services delivered through a primary care (GMS) contract
  • in high secure psychiatric services
  • detained under the Mental Health Act 1983
  • detained in a secure setting. This includes people in or on temporary release from prisons, courts, secure children’s homes, certain secure training centres, immigration removal centres or young offender institutions
  • serving as a member of the armed forces (family members in England have the same rights as other residents of England)

Talk to your GP about whether you can choose your provider.