It is helpful to have prepared a checklist of the things you want to know before you have a meeting with any of the team involved in your care and recovery (or the care of a relative/friend). This can reduce anxiety and make the best use of valuable time.

This checklist is designed to help you get the information you need concerning the diagnosis, treatment, care and recovery plan. These questions have been included as a guide for you to use: you may not find them all helpful and there may be others that are not included.

About the diagnosis

  • What does my diagnosis mean in simple terms?

  • What are the main recognisable features of this diagnosis?

  • What is known about the causes of the illness?

  • What is likely to happen in the future?

  • Where can we get more information about this?

  • If there is no diagnosis yet, what are the possibilities?

  • How long will it be before there is a diagnosis?

  • What help will I get in dealing with the practical issues that may arise in the meantime?

  • Are there different understandings of what I am experiencing, outside of medical understandings?

About the assessment

  • What assessments have been done?

  • Will any more assessments be needed?

  • What are the results of the assessments? How will these be acted upon?

About care, treatment and recovery

  • What is the plan for treating my mental health problem?

  • What are the aims of the care, treatment and recovery plan?

  • Will I have a key worker, and who will this be?

  • Who else will be involved in my care?

  • How often will appointments be made to see a member of the clinical team, and which member of the team will this involve?

  • When can I expect to see an improvement?

  • Would talking therapies (psychotherapy) be helpful? If so, is it available locally?

  • Are there any other therapies that might be helpful?

  • Are there alternative therapies available, if I am not comfortable with the care and treatment plan?

Getting help

  • Who do I contact if I’m worried about something?

  • How can I get in touch with you?

  • Who do I contact in an emergency?

  • How can I get a second opinion (you are entitled to this) if I’m involuntarily detained?

 Medication

  • What medication is to be used, and why?

  • What should the benefits of this medication be? (Short-term benefits and long-term benefits?)

  • What are the possible side effects of this medication? (Short-term side effects and long-term side effects?)

  • How long will this need to be taken?

  • How often will this medication be reviewed?

  • Are there any other options that could be used if this medication does not work?

  • What signs/symptoms might mean that the medication should be changed?

  • What is likely to happen if I stop taking the medication without discussing this with anyone?

  • Do you have any written information about this medication?

Inpatient treatment

  • What happens if there is no bed available?

  • How long will I need to stay in hospital for?

  • What arrangements will need to be in place in order for me to leave hospital?

  • If transport is difficult, can I be housed near family or friends?

  • Can arrangements for Benefits be installed/reinstated immediately on discharge so financial security/ housing does not become a problem?

  • Who will inform utilities etc. that someone is admitted/discharged so that there is no danger of non-payment summons being incurred?

Family/ friends and recovery

  • Will we be involved in discussions concerning the recovery of our relative/friend?

  • What can we do to help?

  • Are there any local self-help or carers’ groups?

  • What other supports are available for us?

  • For in-patient care: How often will I see my relative/friend?

  • What happens if our relative/friend is unwilling to accept certain types of treatment? Will alternatives be offered?

  • If it is not appropriate for our relative/ friend to return home, what other options are available in our area?

  • Who can advise/inform us about the other housing options?

A note on confidentiality

If you are reading this because you are concerned about someone else, you will need your relative or friend to give permission for health professionals to discuss these issues with you. If he or she is unwilling for information to be shared, then they have a right to confidentiality. It is probably best to work through this issue, with your relative or friend, before any meetings with health professionals. Talk with him or her about whether they are happy for you to be involved, so that you are aware of where you stand.

Content provided by Shine and adapted for YourMentalHealth.ie by the National Office for Suicide Prevention. Find out more about our content partnerships