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  • Writer's pictureLibby

Mental health support available for adults in England

Updated: Jan 18, 2021

My name is Libby and I am a Cognitive Behaviour Therapist currently working in the NHS within an IAPT service. I know how difficult it can be when you or someone you love is struggling with their mental health. Let alone then having to siv through the internet for information. So I have put together a list of services which provide mental health support for adults in England. I understand that things may seem confusing, but you have made the first and hardest step by starting your search for support.

NHS services:

Improving Access to Psychological Therapy services (IAPT):

IAPT is free to access and provides mental health support for adults (16+) struggling with a range of difficulties such as depression, self-esteem, PTSD and anxiety difficulties. IAPT is currently expanding and in 2019/20 there were 676,985 referrals.

How to access IAPT:

You can ask your GP to refer you to your local IAPT service. Alternatively, you can self-refer via telephone or by filling out an online referral form. You can use this link to find your local service.

What to expect at the assessment stage:

Services will try their best to offer an assessment within a few weeks of receiving the referral. This will most likely be a phone call which will range between 30- 60 minutes depending on the area. You will be asked questions around your difficulties, your safety and your hopes for therapy.

The outcome will usually be one of the following options:

1. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)

2. Counselling

3. Referred to a specialist service in the area

4. Referred to a crisis service if there is an immediate risk to your safety

5. Signposted to a specialist charity in that area

The waiting lists for CBT and counselling range from 1- 6 months depending on the area.

What to expect in CBT:

CBT is a widely researched treatment method for difficulties including depression, PTSD, self-esteem and anxiety disorders such as OCD, social anxiety, panic, body dysmorphia, GAD and phobias. To find out more about CBT check out the British Association for cognitive behavioural psychotherapy (BABCP) website

CBT can be delivered 1:1, in a group or via a computerised programme. Within IAPT services, if you have not had any support before, it is likely but not definite that you will be put forward for a group or a computerised CBT programme in the first instance. Group CBT does not require you to share your difficulties, it involves the practitioners teaching the group techniques. If further support is required, you may then be put forward for the 1:1 sessions which range from 6-20 sessions depending on the area. Some CBT therapists are also trained in Eye Movement Rapid Desensitisation (EMDR) which is an evidence-based therapy for certain presentations of PTSD.

The more recent development of 3rd wave CBT is currently being rolled out in some IAPT services but not all. 3rd wave CBT includes Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, (ACT), Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Mindfulness Therapy and Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT).

What to expect in counselling:

Counselling is 1:1 and is usually 6-12 sessions depending on the difficulty and service. Counselling is typically most effective for depression as opposed to anxiety disorders and is helpful for those who hope to process difficult life experiences such as grief or relationship breakdowns. Some IAPT Services will have their own counsellors or they will refer you to a separate counselling service. Some services may offer couples or family counselling. To find out more about counselling check out the British Association for Counselling Psychotherapy (BACP) website

It is important to visit your GP about your mental health as they will be able to refer or signpost to you the appropriate practitioner and service in your area.

Private services:

· The BABCP is a trusted website whereby you can find accredited CBT and EMDR therapists

· The BACP is a trusted website whereby you find accredited counsellors

· You can find an accredited ACT Therapist on the Association For Contextual Behavioural Science (ACBS) website

· You will be able to pay for other modes of therapy privately.


· There are national and local charities. Some charities offer therapy, recourses and helplines.

For example:

· A list but by no means an exhaustive list of charities and helplines can be found across the NHS and ITV websites:

· Other charities which are mentioned in the above websites include:

1. Women’s Aid offers specialist support for people who have experienced domestic abuse

2. Help for Heroes and Combat Stress offers specialist support for the military and their families

· There may be smaller charities specific to your area that are not detailed here.


Some employers provide access to mental health support. This is usually for mild-moderate difficulties. The type of support will vary but it will usually be counselling or CBT. To find out if your employer offers this, contact your occupational health department.


Most universities provide mental health support. The type of support will vary but it will usually be counselling or CBT. Most universities detail how to access this support on their website.

Free online recourses:

· Get self-help-

· CBT tutorials for OCD on youtube by Dr Katie D’ath

· Compassionate mind-

· There are courses online which cost. For example: Be mindful is an NHS approved mindfulness course- Be Mindful | The NHS-approved digital mindfulness course


There are a number of free and paid for mental health apps. A list can be found on the NHS website. You will note that there are 2 apps specific for self-harm 1)Calm harm 2)DistrACT. Two apps which are not detailed here are 1) Calm 2) Headspace.

What to do in a crisis:

· Contact an emergency service. Call 999, 111 or go to your local A+E department

· Contact a helpline: 1. Samaritans - for everyone Call 116 123 2. Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) Call 0800 58 58 58 – 5pm to midnight every day.

3.Papyrus – for people under 35 Call 0800 068 41 41 – 9am to midnight every day Text 07860 039967

4. Childline – for children and young people under 19 Call 0800 1111 – the number will not show up on your phone bill 5. SOS Suicide of Silence – for everyone Call 0300 1020 505 – 9am to midnight every day

· Message a text line

1. Shout Crisis Text Line – for everyone Text “SHOUT” to 85258 2. YoungMinds Crisis Messenger – for people under 19 Text “YM” to 85258

· More information on the above can be found on the NHS website: · Visit the Staying safe website which provides practical support and advise.

I hope you have found something from this article useful. I am proud you have made it

to this step and I wish you the best on your journey.


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