If you have a problem with a bad back or a sore leg, no one would expect you to soldier on without getting some professional help. Your mental health is no different. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness - it takes courage to confront a problem and look for a way to get better.
General Practitioner (GP)
If you are worried about you mental health, your GP will often be your first point of contact. However, telling anyone about your concerns can feel like a big step to take. Some people find that their doctor is understanding and supportive, while others find they do not receive the help or consideration they need. Rethink’s booklet Getting more from your GP practice explains how you can get the help you need from your GP. It is available free from their website.
Telling your GP about how you have been feeling may be upsetting. Some people find it helpful to go with a friend or family member if they can.
If you find your doctor is helpful and supportive, it can be good to ask to see that same doctor every time. This is because the doctor will get to know you and your concerns and will avoid you having to go over everything from the start each time you visit. It can also help later on because your doctor can help you recognise signs of illness should you begin to become unwell again.
If you do not think your GP is helpful or understanding, you can ask to see someone else. This is not always easy, but you could ask to see the practice nurse, or to see a GP in the practice that has more knowledge and experience of mental health issues. Rethink’s website has some useful advice on choosing a doctor and what you can do if you think your doctor is not listening to you.
NHS Choices has information about GP practices in your area.
Community Mental Health Teams (CMHT)
Community Mental Health Teams (CMHT) provide services to people living in the community aged between 16, 17 or 18 and 65 who are experiencing mental health problems.
Community mental health teams are made up of mental health professionals such as social workers, community mental health nurses (sometimes known as community psychiatric nurses or CPNs), occupational therapists, counsellors, psychiatrists and psychologists.
Community mental health teams are provided by the Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT).
Most people receive treatment and support with their mental health from their GP. If your GP thinks your needs are complex, he or she may think you would benefit from the support available from your local community mental health team. This should be discussed with you, and if you agree, he or she can ‘refer’ you to the team. If you think you would benefit from the support of the community mental health team, you can ask your GP to refer you.
Referral means that your details will be passed on to the team and someone from the team will contact you to find out more about you and tell you more about the support available.
In some parts of Kent and Medway, you are able to refer yourself to the community mental health team. This means that you do not have to go through your GP.
Sometimes you may be referred through the hospital accident and emergency department, by a social worker or the police. This would be more likely to happen if you were experiencing a crisis with your mental health.
If you are referred to a community mental health team, someone from the team will ask to meet with you. This meeting may be at your home, in the building where the community mental health team is based, or it could be somewhere else near to where you live. This person will ask you questions to find out you and your mental health. This should include talking with you about your strengths and abilities, your concerns and worries and working with you to identify the areas where you need support. This assessment may take place over a number of meetings. It will help work out how the community mental health team can best treat and support you.
Keyworker or Care co-ordinator
Within the team, one person will be assigned to work with you and help make sure you get the help and support you need. This person may be known as your keyworker or your care co-ordinator. They will be the main point of contact within the team for you and for others that are involved in supporting you, such as your GP.
KMPT’s website explains that its community mental health teams have a role in:
- assessing your needs with you in relation to any given situation
- developing a plan with you, in response to the needs identified and agreed
- sharing responsibility with you (and others as needed), to put the plan in action
- reviewing the plan with you periodically to see that it is meeting your needs and to agree any changes.
Care Programme Approach (CPA)
The Care Programme Approach (CPA) is a way of co-ordinating services for people with mental health needs. It is a process that community mental health teams follow when supporting people with mental health needs. It describes the way they assess needs, plan ways to meet these needs and check that these needs are being met.
The focus of the CPA should be to promote social inclusion and recovery and build confidence by understanding a person’s strengths, goals and aspirations as well as their needs and difficulties.
In the past, people supported by community health teams were supported under the standard or enhanced levels of CPA. This has changed. People are now supported under CPA or not. There are no longer standard or enhanced levels. Some people receive support from community mental health teams, but are not regarded as receiving support under CPA.
KMPT’s website states that the process of assessment and care planning will still exist for all users of their services – whether they are being supported under CPA or not.
Treatment and Support
Help available may include medication, counselling, support with employment, help with benefits, support with physical health issues and linking you up with other people who have had similar experiences and who may be able to provide friendship and understanding.
If a family member or friend helps care for you, they may be able to get support in their role as a carer. Your community mental health team should ask you about this. Find out more about support for carers (link).
Find your nearest community mental health team
Community mental health teams across Kent and Medway are grouped into three areas: Eastern and Coastal Kent (including Ashford, Canterbury, Shepway, Swale and Thanet), Medway (including Rainham, Gillingham, Chatham, Rochester and Strood) and West Kent (including Dartford, Gravesham, Maidstone, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells).
The links below take you to the Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT) website which provides contact details and other information about each of the teams.
Eastern and Coastal Kent
Assertive Outreach Teams
Assertive outreach teams work with people with severe and long lasting mental health needs. Their role is to help people keep in contact with the mental health services that can support them and to help people make sure that they keep to their treatment plan. They may provide help with finding accommodation, managing money and making new friends.
In Kent and Medway, assertive outreach is provided as part of the service offered by community mental health teams.
Counselling and Psychological Services
Talking through your worries and concerns can help. Counselling and other forms of psychological therapies are available from counselling and psychological services across Kent and Medway. Find out more about psychological therapies.
Personality Disorders Services
KMPT provides a Personality Disorder Service for people with a diagnosis of severe personality disorder. People are referred to the service through their community mental health team.
The Brenchley Unit Therapeutic Community is situated in Maidstone town centre. It supports up to 24 patients at any one time with an intensive three-days a week group therapy programme for one year. To be referred to this programme, people will have experienced severe long-standing problems and will have been in receipt of adult mental health services for one year or more.
There is also an outreach service which provides assessments, advice, supervision, consultation and weekly therapy groups in across Kent and Medway. The service is based at:
Brenchley Unit, Pudding Lane, Maidstone, Kent, ME14 9PA
Tel: 01622 776330
Fax: 01622 776339
Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)
Child and Adolescent Mental Health services for East Kent
Child and Adolescent Mental Health services for West Kent
A service aimed at young people to help them socially, psychologically and emotionally
There are many other organisations which can provide you with help and support within your community. Many of these organisations are charitable and have funding from local councils or primary care trusts to provide people with mental health needs support at little or no cost. Find out more about mental health services where you live.
Within Medway there are a number of different forums and groups that are able to support you.
Medway Engagement Group & Network (MEGAN) CIC
Formerly known as The Mental Health Service User Engagement Project, MEGAN CIC provides opportunities for mental health service users past and present to share their views and experiences of mental health issues and services and participate in local service planning and development.
They facilitate various groups which include: New comers group, forums, activity afternoon/music group, drop in sessions, peer support group and many many more. The groups support people with building confidence, building a network of friends, to have a voice and to help reduce stigma and discrimination around mental health in general.
If you would like to know more please contact Tracey or Catherine at the following:
Tel: 01634 402 077