Blog | Treatment and support: the importance of options and information

14th August 2020

Our Senior Public Affairs Officer, Suzi Martin, shares key facts about treatment and support for mental health problems and some useful advice for anyone seeking support for their mental health.  

There are many different kinds of effective treatment and support for people with mental health problems; the most important thing is that people are given options and information, so that they can choose, with advice from their doctor, whatever treatment and support works best for them.

Here are four key facts about medication and psychological therapies, followed by four SAMH tips for people who are seeking support.

  1. There can be a lot of stigma associated with taking medication for your mental health. Sometimes people’s misconceptions about medication can stop them considering it. However, it’s important to remember that medication can be a very effective treatment. Some people use medication to facilitate recovery from a mental health problem, while other people use it their whole life to help manage their mental health. However, you should always be given a choice.
  2. Almost a third of people with depression don’t feel well informed about their treatment. SAMH research has found that people often particularly didn’t feel well informed about medication, including its side effects.  
  3. Psychological therapies are designed to help someone make changes to their thinking to relieve psychological distress. These are a range of recommended treatments for a number of mental health problems, sometimes alongside medication.
  4. The average waiting time for psychological therapy in Scotland is five weeks, but some people wait up to, and sometimes over, a year.[ii] Access to some therapies is also limited to a set period of time, despite evidence showing that people who feel their therapy has lasted long enough are also more likely to feel it has helped.[iii]

Our research shows that the more someone feels involved in decisions about their treatment and support, the more likely they are to feel happy about the treatment and support they are receiving. To feel involved in decisions, people need to be given options and they need to be well informed.

That’s why we are calling for change, including: a review of the psychological therapies waiting time target (18 weeks referral to treatment ); the removal of time limitations from psychological therapies; increased use of the Yellow Card Scheme for reporting side effects of medication; and a review of Patient Information Leaflets for all mental health medication.

If you are worried or anxious about seeking support for your mental health, here are four top tips:

  1. Write down what you want to say, as well as any questions or concerns you have. You can use this note to remind you what you want to say or hand it to your GP if talking openly is difficult.
  2. Book a double appointment – this is two appointments that are back-to-back, increasing your appointment time from 10 minutes to 20 minutes. This gives you more time to talk to your GP about how you’re feeling and about different treatment and support options.
  3. Ask your GP for a follow up appointment before you leave the GP surgery. This will allow you to chat to your GP about how you’re finding your treatment and/or support and raise any questions or concerns you might have.
  4. Remind yourself that there is help out there and you’re not alone! We all have mental health and it’s just as important for us to look after our mental health as it is our physical health.

You can find more tips like these in our attending a GP appointment page. To see everything we’re calling for on treatment and support, read the full SAMH’s View on Treatment and Support.

If you need more information and advice about getting support in your area, you can contact our Information Service between Monday and Friday (9am to 6pm) on 0344 800 0550 or at You can also visit our website for more information on mental health problems and how you can look after yourself.