If you are concerned about your own or a loved one's mental health, it may be a good time to get a mental health check-up.
The first thing to do is to see a general practitioner (GP) at a nearby clinic. Tell the GP about your concerns and how you have been feeling lately.
For example: Have you been feeling down? Worrying about bad things happening all the time? Preoccupied with your weight? Having difficulty focusing and paying attention? Having difficulty sleeping? Having racing thoughts? Hearing voices that others do not seem to hear or seeing things that others do not see?
Be as detailed as you can be.
The GP is not a mental health specialist. Even though they are trained to recognize and provide pharmacotherapy (medication) to treat common mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, we recommend that you get a referral to a psychiatrist or a psychologist to have a more complete and thorough assessment of your mental health. Some studies, such as this one, have shown that GPs often do not detect anxiety and depression.
If you feel like harming yourself or others, please go to the Emergency Room of a public hospital immediately or call 999. You are not alone and help is available to you right now.
The most common treatments for mental illnesses are psychotherapy and medication. You should ask your doctor or psychiatrist for all treatment options including psychotherapy (also known as talk therapy). It is your ethical and legal right to provide informed consent to the treatment you are receiving.
If your GP or psychiatrist prescribes medication, you will need follow-up appointments to monitor your symptoms and side-effects of the medication. At the beginning of treatment, you should see your psychiatrists fairly frequently until your symptoms stabilizes. You should not renew your prescription for medication without a follow-up appointment with your psychiatrist. Follow-up monitoring is often lacking but is essential given the side-effects of certain medication may include increased suicide ideation.
You can ask your GP or psychiatrist for a referral to a clinical psychologist or a counsellor for psychotherapy treatment.
For common mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, psychotherapy has been found to be equally effective as medication. For all mental illnesses including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, the combination of medication and psychotherapy have often been found to be the most effective treatment in clinical trials.
If you intend to seek private treatment, it is possible to make an appointment with a psychiatrist or a psychologist directly without seeing a GP. However, we recommend that your family doctor remains involved and aware of any treatment(s) you are receiving.
Informed consent is the process by which the treating health care provider discloses appropriate information to a competent patient so that the patient may make a voluntary choice to accept or refuse treatment.
- Make an appointment with your family doctor or a General Practitioner (GP).
- Ask for a referral to a psychiatrist. You will need a letter of referral from a GP before making an appointment at a psychiatry clinic at a public hospital.
- Ask your psychiatrist for all your treatment options and for a referral to a clinical psychologist or a counsellor for psychotherapy.
- If you are on medication, please take note of the side-effects of the medication. Make sure you get follow-up appointments with your psychiatrist (or the prescribing physician) to monitor symptoms and side-effects of medication.
If you are not comfortable with the treatment you are given, let your mental health professional know and discuss your treatment options again. You may also ask for a referral for a second opinion or a different psychologist/counsellor. Please do not stop taking your medication without consulting with your psychiatrist or prescribing physician.
WHAT ARE MY TREATMENT OPTIONS?