Advocating For Your Needs

We hope this advice, resources and free tools will help with navigating mental health services in Scotland to ensure that your care meets your needs and respects your rights

How Do I Access The Right Support?

Navigating the NHS can be difficult at the best of times (especially when services are underfunded or not available in your area) but when you are seeking help for your  mental health it can be even more difficult.


It will help if you are able to identify your needs and goals so that you are able to advocate for them and make informed choices about the care you receive, just as you would do for a physical health condition.

The NHS suggests remembering to ask about BRAN when you are offered healthcare treatments:

B - What are the Benefits?

R - What are the Risks?

A - What are the Alternatives?

N - What if we do Nothing?

It's important that your voice and opinions are recorded in your medical records but this may not always happen.


Always put important things in writing 

(and put a date on it too!)


This doesn't need to be formal typed letters, it could be a handwritten note. Just make sure that it is added to your files. Unfortunately some practitioners may not like that you are taking more control of your healthcare by doing this but it acts as a safeguard incase they don't listen to you and this results in misdiagnosis, the wrong kind of treatment or harm.


Take an advocate to appointments  


If you don't feel listened to Mind has useful tips and information on your legal right to advocacy. Reach out to local advocacy services or Citizens Advice if you need support at appointments or meetings.


Examples of important things to put in writing:

  • Information about your symptoms and if they change
  • Requests for support and why this is needed
  • Requests to try, change or stop medication
  • Requests for a second opinion or to be seen by a different healthcare professional
  • Querying a specific diagnosis
  • If you need accommodations for a disability
  • If you have disagreed with a decision made about your care

Official tools that are used by professionals to record common symptoms are at the bottom of this page for free.

These will be helpful in advocating for your needs and getting the best care for you.

Official Diagnostic Tools If You Are Struggling To Access Support

Although its not always necessary or desirable to have an official diagnosis sometimes this is required to access appropriate care and ensure that you are being provided with accommodations to suit your needs.

Official Tools to Record Common Symptoms

If you are not receiving access to mental health support or you want to make sure that therapy or medications are helping to improve your wellbeing you can use these official tools keep track of your symptoms so that you can discuss them with your GP or other healthcare providers. You might want to do this before each appointment. 


They are all very quick and simple, only asking you to tick a checkbox or circle a number - no need to write any answers. 

But you might want to ask someone to prompt you if you struggle to remember to use them regularly or before appointments.


Click a questionnaire to view a printable copy:


There is an increase in adults being diagnosed as autistic after years of wondering why they feel so 'different' to others. You should have access to healthcare accommodations if you are autistic and it could be a valuable part of your identity. 


Be aware that stigma does unfortunately still exist, including in mental health services. If you don't have access to local support groups there is a growing global neurodiversity community who are welcoming, full of advice and very active on social media! 


There is an increase in adults (especially women) being diagnosed as ADHD after years of struggling with tasks that others seem to find so simple. There are effective treatments for this condition but getting a diagnosis on the NHS can be difficult. 


If you do have success with securing treatment for your ADHD on the NHS you will go through a process of testing medications and dosages to find what works for you. We suggest using this medication log to discuss your symptoms with your prescribing psychiatrist to make sure medications are improving your symptoms and  wellbeing.

PTSD (From A Single Event or Prolonged Harmful Experiences)

Please ensure that you feel safe enough to use the PTSD symptom questionnaires. They do not ask for any details about traumatic events but you may want to ask someone to support you. If you need immediate help see our Support page where we have free safety resources available too.

You don't need a diagnosis of PTSD to receive good quality trauma-informed care but some practitioners will not refer people to trauma therapies (such as EMDR) without one. 


A diagnosis also helps safeguard you from re-traumatisation when using public services or undergoing any treatments as your needs should be accommodated to prevent this from occurring. 


Remember that you don't have to be a war veteran or experienced a life-threatening incident for trauma and adversity to significantly affect your physical and mental health.


Stay Safe

We have free resources to help with keeping safe during difficult times and immediate support helplines.


What Do I Do If Things Go Wrong? 

If you don't feel that you are being listened to it is your legal right to have an advocate to support you.

Find out more about this on the Mind website.


If you have been harmed by mental health services (including misdiagnosis or waiting far too long for help) 

you can raise concerns to the NHS and try to make changes, for yourself and others. Share your experience on the NHS Care Opinions website and follow the formal NHS complaints procedure.

You can also raise concerns to one of the professional or regulatory bodies.


The Patient Advice and Support Service (PASS) by Citizens Advice can support you throughout the

NHS Complaints process,  including requesting a copy of your medical records.


Check out our Care Standards and Navigating Services pages for advice.

Do you need help navigating the mental health system?


We believe that everyone should have access to the help they need when they need it, and be able to make informed decisions about their own healthcare. 


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