A G.P. (also known as a family doctor) is often the first health professional you access for a wide range of health issues, including mental health. A G.P. may not be able to address all your concerns in one appointment. However, a G.P. can offer a number of support options and is the gateway to other services.

A G.P. can talk to you about:

  • Things you can do for yourself

This might include tips for good mental health, such as eating well and exercising, self-help reading, or referral to an exercise programme.

  • Talking therapies

Counselling is a type of talking therapy. This type of support involves talking with a professional about your feelings and concerns. A G.P. can recommend talking therapies in your area. These might include free, low cost or private options. If you are a medical card holder and over 18, he or she may refer you to counselling in primary care.

  • Medication

There are a variety of medicines that can help someone who has mental health concerns. It can take some time for these medicines to work, and it is important that the person is closely monitored by a G.P. If antidepressants are prescribed, they should be regularly monitored. Not everyone wants to take medication for depression and it is important to understand the benefits and possible side effects. If you have concerns, speak with your G.P. and explore what other options are available. Ask your G.P. about the outcomes they expect from the medication, how long they think you will need to take the medication, and if medication will be combined with other treatment options, such as counselling.

For more detailed information on mental health conditions and related medicines, you can also visit Choice & Medication. This site provides answers to many commonly asked questions about medication.

  • Psychology services

A G.P. may refer you to H.S.E. Psychology services. In some areas, psychology services are available through primary care. This means that you can access the service directly in those areas. Ask your G.P. or local health centre for more information. You can also find a psychologist and arrange a private appointment via www.psychologicalsociety.ie/find-a-psychologist/

  • Access to mental health services

An appointment for H.S.E. Mental Health Services can only be made through a G.P. or other health professional. If your G.P. decides this service is appropriate, he or she will make a referral.

  • Long-term support

The G.P. is an important part of your long-term health support. He or she will develop a “big picture” of how you are being cared for by a variety of services. Where others are involved in your care (such as a psychiatrist, social worker, family members, etc.) the G.P. may work with them in order to provide you with the best overall care.

Find a G.P. near you: