This information should not be relied upon as legal or professional advice. Read the disclaimer.
The Library is often asked for practical advice on supporting constituents with mental health problems, and for help with constituency casework enquiries on mental health.
The APPG on Mental Health has produced a guide for Members and staff on how to support constituents with mental health problems. The MPs and staffers’ guide to mental health provides information about common mental health problems and practical tips on signposting constituents to organisations who can help. It also provides advice on helping constituents in distress.
The Library is able to assist with constituency enquiries on a range of related topics, including access to mental health services, compulsory detention under the Mental Health Act 1983, criminal justice services, veterans’ mental health, employment and welfare policies.
Constituents can approach their GP to discuss concerns about their mental health. The GP may make a referral to a specialist service if required.
Constituents in England over 18 years old can access talking therapies via the NHS. Talking therapies can help with common mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Types of therapy include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and counselling. Constituents can find their local NHS talking therapies service online. They can ask their GP to refer them or refer themselves directly to the service.
People of all ages in England can access urgent mental health help 24-hours a day, 7 days a week via their local urgent mental health helpline.
For more information on accessing NHS mental health services in England see Mental health services – NHS.
For guidance on accessing services in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, see the following links:
- NHS 111 Wales – Health A-Z : Mental health services
- Mental health | NHS inform
- Mental health | nidirect
Constituents may approach their MP for help with problems that are hard for them to manage due to their mental health difficulties. Alternatively, constituents may find that stressful situations, such as debt or housing issues, are taking a toll on their mental health. Below are some organisations that provide help on topics that commonly intersect with mental health problems.
Information and advice
Mind provide support and advice to people experiencing problems with their mental health and their carers. The Mind website is a useful resource for straight-forward information on mental health conditions and legal rights. A network of Local Minds offer services such as talking therapies and peer support groups. Mind also have two helplines:
Rethink Mental Illness support people severely affected by mental illness and their carers. They provide mental health services, support groups and online advice pages on a variety of topics about mental illness. Freephone 0808 801 0525, email email@example.com or use their webchat.
Children and young people’s mental health
YoungMinds provide mental health guidance and support for young people and their parents.
The Mix provides support to anyone under 25, including a helpline, one-to-one webchat, counselling services and a crisis messenger.
Samaritans also offer a Welsh language service.
Mind have put together a list of UK addiction and dependency support organisations for those affected and their families, including support for alcohol and drug addiction and gambling problems.
Support for veterans
Combat Stress is a UK charity supporting veterans with their mental health, including help with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety. Call the free, 24/7 helpline on 0800 138 1619 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mental health and money advice help people with mental health conditions that need financial advice and people who are experiencing financial difficulties that are impacting upon their mental health. The website includes guides on dealing with debt, Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payments (PIP).
Shelter has produced a useful webpage on Housing for people with mental health needs. Shelter also has an emergency helpline for urgent cases – if someone has nowhere to sleep tonight or is at risk of harm or abuse in their home.
Mental health support for MP’s and their staff
Supporting constituents in distress can have an emotional impact on MPs and their staff. The Health and Wellbeing pages of the intranet are a useful place to find support for mental health and wellbeing, including information on the Employee Assistance Programme, occupational health services and finding a mental health first aider. The Members’ Services Team organises training for staff on dealing with suicidal callers and general mental health issues – these courses are bookable on ACT.
About the author: Katherine Garratt is a researcher specialising in mental health at the House of Commons Library and is a Registered Mental Health Nurse.
The Commons Library does not intend the information in this article to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual. We have published it to support the work of MPs. You should not rely upon it as legal or professional advice, or as a substitute for it. We do not accept any liability whatsoever for any errors, omissions or misstatements contained herein. You should consult a suitably qualified professional if you require specific advice or information. Read our briefing for information about sources of legal advice and help.