Help from your healthcare team

How we feel can affect us both physically and emotionally. If your feelings are very strong, it can sometimes be difficult to think and act normally. Usually, this only lasts a short time. But if your feelings stop you from living normally for a long period of time, you may need extra help.

Your GP and healthcare team can help you cope with your emotions. Try speaking with your GP, clinical nurse specialist or key worker first. You may also find it helpful to speak to members of the wider healthcare team, such as a:

  • counsellor
  • clinical psychologist
  • psychiatrist
  • community psychiatric nurse.

Speaking to a specialist about your feelings does not mean something is seriously wrong. They are professionals, who are trained to help you manage your feelings.

As well as accessing support through your healthcare team, you might want to try getting help from:

  • self-referral
  • online mental health services
  • counselling centres run by local charities and organisations
  • private clinics.

How to get help

If you find your feelings and emotions are overwhelming, or if you are becoming increasingly anxious or depressed, it may be time to get help from a healthcare professional.

Below is information about getting help from:

  • your healthcare team at the hospital
  • your GP
  • self-referral
  • online mental health services
  • local charities and organisations
  • private clinics.

If you have access to private health insurance, some schemes also cover mental health.

After speaking to the Macmillan psychologist, I realised I wasn’t on my own. It was all explained to me very clearly. That it would go away. I’m feeling lots better.

Alfie


Help from your healthcare team

Many people get a lot of support from the hospital staff who look after them during their treatment.

If you are having cancer treatment, you may be given a clinical nurse specialist or key worker. These specialist nurses are often your main contact at the hospital. They can give information and support to you and your family.

They can help with concerns you feel you can’t talk to your consultant about, like worries about travelling, finances or work. They are also likely to have details of local support groups and other organisations that may be able to help.


Help from your GP

Try to plan what you want to say. It can help to write things down before the appointment. When you are with your GP, tell them how you really feel. Focus on what concerns you most. This will help them give you the most helpful advice or treatment. Appointments are usually short, but a little planning ahead will help you to get what you need from your GP.

Taking a relative or friend along to the appointment can help you remember everything you want to discuss. After the appointment they can also remind you about what the doctor said. Some GPs are happy for you to record the discussion so you can listen to it later. Check this is okay with your GP before the discussion starts.

Your GP may refer you to one of the following professionals:

  • Counsellors are trained to listen and help people talk through their problems. They will not give advice or provide answers, but they will help you find your own solutions. This can be very helpful, particularly if you don’t feel able to discuss your feelings and emotions with people close to you.
  • Clinical psychologists are trained to understand what people think and feel, and how they behave – particularly in stressful situations, such as coping with cancer. They can also help people with their relationships. If you are depressed or anxious, a clinical psychologist can help you look at thoughts or patterns of behaviour that are causing you problems.
  • Psychiatrists are doctors who diagnose and treat mental health problems, including depression and anxiety. Some psychiatrists are specially trained in looking after the mental health of people with cancer.
  • Community psychiatric nurses help people live with all types of mental health problems.

There are many healthcare professionals who can help you cope with your feelings and emotions. Each one has a different role, but usually you will only need the help of one or two of them.

It may feel uncomfortable, but it is important to be open and honest with healthcare professionals to get the information and support that you need. It is illegal for healthcare staff to discriminate against you because of your age, ethnicity, gender or sexuality.

I am very grateful for the amazing care I have had from the advisers and counsellors at Macmillan.

Ezio


Self-referral

In England, Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) is a programme that offers talking therapies for common mental health problems. You can contact the service yourself. Search for ‘psychological therapies (IAPT)’ on the NHS website to find your local service.

There is some discussion about whether IAPT will be expanded to cover more of the UK. At present, it is still only available in England.

If you live in Scotland, call 0800 328 9655 (Monday to Friday, 1pm to 9pm) to access the cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) telephone service. You will be asked to provide some details. An assessment appointment will then be arranged to discuss the service and how they can provide you with help. Two types of telephone support are available. To find out more, visit the NHS 24 website.

In Wales, there is no similar self-referral scheme. You will need to visit your doctor for referral to counselling services through the NHS.

People living in Northern Ireland can call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000. You will receive immediate help on the phone from a trained counsellor. They will help you to identify what type of support you need and can arrange a face-to-face counselling appointment in your local area within seven days.

Waiting times

Unfortunately not all areas offer the same services, and waiting times can be long. During this time, it is important for you to get the support you need. There are organisations that offer support via phone, email or face-to-face through local support groups. It can help to keep a diary of your feelings and moods, and to speak to your GP or cancer specialists if things change.


Online mental health services

There are a range of online services available to support people with mental health issues. These can be delivered via computers, tablets or phones. If you are supported by a remote therapist, it can be just as effective as face-to-face therapy.

You may be able to use online services for free on the NHS. You can ask your GP or therapist, or contact the services yourself. If they are not available on the NHS in your area, you may be able to pay for the services.

Visit the NHS website to find out more.


Local charities and organisations

There are local counselling centres run by charities or counsellor training schools. Many of these organisations offer support via phone, email or face-to-face through local support groups.

We have details of organisations  that can help. You may also find an organisation that provides counselling near to you by searching online for ‘low cost counselling’ with the name of your area.


Private clinics

Private therapists can often see you straight away. They can be expensive, though many offer lower rates if you are on a low income. You may see this called a ‘sliding scale’. Private therapy is useful if you want a certain talking therapy, access to treatment more quickly, or you want to continue therapy for a longer time than you can on the NHS.

You can find a private therapist through the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).

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