Should I go to my GP & other Questions?

Often, we are told to go to our GP if we are facing a health or mental health issue. This can be a useful source of support.
Our role at Harmless is to offer a balanced and informed perspective so that people can feel safe and supported.
Like with any profession, some GP’s can be fantastic with this issue and some people have bad experiences. When we present at a service it is important that we know what we are hoping for when we go there.
Are we going for advice? Support? For an ongoing referral. So before you approach a service it can be helpful to think about what it is that you hope to gain from speaking to them. The GP will have limited time, which for some people can feel as though their issues aren’t important but the GP will be under time pressures to see other patients – that doesn’t mean that you don’t matter.

Young People

If you are a young person, the GP may be able to make a referral onto CAMHS (which stands for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services). This may or may not happen and many young people and their families can find this is confusing. It is worth asking your GP if you do go to them if they are able to seek support from another service for you. CAMHS is the NHS service for mental health but there may be other options available to you that could see you quicker or for longer. You have choices and it is important to check out what they are in your specific area.
If CAMHS will not offer you help it may be that there is some other service in your area that can provide you with support. Just because this may not be the NHS does not mean that it is not as qualified a service. In the UK a lot of our helpful services are delivered by charities or similar.



The options available to adults are more complicated. Every geographical area will be slightly different.
Going to the GP and disclosing self harm can be daunting, so again we reiterate, have a think about what it is that you want to get out of speaking to the GP before you go – this can help you get what you need from the appointment. Remember, a large proportion of the GP’s time is spent speaking with people about their mental health. You should expect a compassionate and helpful response.
The GP may refer you onto another service.
Unless you have other accompanying mental health diagnoses it is unlikely in most cases that the local mental health team would be able to help but there can be variation in that so check it out.
There are community therapy services called IAPT and different providers operate in different areas. These offer differing levels of counselling, psychotherapy and self-help and in most areas you can make a referral directly to them yourself. It is worth asking them directly or your GP to establish, whether you will be excluded from those services because of self harm, as this can sometimes be the case. Checking this out before hand can save the heart ache of a rejected referral.

Managing Expectations

Many people think that a natural and sensible expectation is to go to your GP and then get referred onwards to a prompt and helpful service. As much as we hope that this is your experience, it can often be that there are few services on the ground to help and support you.
If you find that this is the case, please do get in touch with us and we will see if there is anything that we can do to improve things or help you.
Don’t despair! There is always something that can be done to help and we will do our best to help you find what you need.


It can be a worry when we start talking about our mental health, that people will talk about us. The principle of confidentiality is about privacy and respecting someone’s wishes. It means that professionals shouldn’t share personal details about someone with others, unless that person has said they can or it’s absolutely necessary. An example of when this might happen is if a professional was worried about you attempting suicide or if there is suspected abuse occurring.
If you are under 18, different services will behave in different ways with regards to your confidentiality. A school, for instance, is almost always likely to speak to your parents if it is brought to their attention that you are self harming however they should inform you of this and involve you in the process so that you feel in control.
People often ask us if their GP will tell their workplace, or somewhere else; in most cases the answer to this should be no, unless there is a significant risk to yourself or to someone else.
If you are looking to get insurance or a mortgage to buy a property then the company may contact your GP and in these cases the GP will need to tell them about your health needs. Having a history of self harm and mental health struggles will be considered in such applications and may have an implication on things, however, you should always be treated fairly in this process.