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Mental health and wellbeing: Getting help

Whether you’re concerned about yourself or a loved one, the following helplines and support groups are there to help and offer expert advice.

For immediate help

The NHS has launched a mental health hotline to support healthcare workers during the coronavirus pandemic. If you need help with the pressures you are facing call 0300 131 7000 (7am – 11pm every day) or text FRONTLINE to 85258 (24/7).

The British Medical Association offers a dedicated 24-hour confidential support line: 0330 123 1245.

The NHS Practitioner Health Programme has a 24-hour crisis support line: text PHP to 85258.

The Samaritans are there to listen with a 24/7 free telephone helpline: call 116 123 for free or email jo@samaritans.org (24-hour response)

Type the words Hub of Hope as a search term on your smartphone with location services turned on, and links to the nearest counselling facilities will automatically pop up. This is very useful if you are looking for immediate local support. The database also includes links to immediate walk-in centres for individuals at risk of suicide.

Connecting with People also includes links to organisations offering help.

Useful resources

StayingSafe.net is aimed at those who may be having suicidal thoughts and includes helpful videos, sources of immediate 24/7 support and an online safety plan.

Doctors in Distress includes a wealth of useful resources and signposts.

Health for Health Professionals Wales (HHP Wales) offers a free, confidential service that provides NHS staff, students and volunteers in Wales providing rapid access to various levels of mental health support. ​Find out more or email HHP@cf.ac.uk.

This NHS webpage on Mental health helplines lists links to support groups.

First steps

If you have yet to do so or have recently moved house, it is important to register with a GP.

You can access occupational health services through your local trust or health board.

Every mind matters is a Public Health England website (in partnership with the NHS) to help you to take simple steps to look after your mental health, improve your mental wellbeing and support others.

Find out how to access NHS mental health services.

The BMA wellbeing services include a range of free and confidential services and information to help support doctors and medical students:

  • Confidential 24/7 counselling line, and Peer support service for all doctors and medical students on 0330 123 1245
  • BMA members, plus their partners and dependents, can also access a free structured course of up to six sessions of therapy with a counsellor
  • A UK wellbeing support directory detailing various support services by geographical availability on their sources of support page

The NHS Practitioner Health Programme offers a confidential advice line on 0203 049 4504 on Monday–Friday 8am–8pm, Saturday 7.30am–2.30pm.

Other organisations that can help

Doc Health is a self-referral psychotherapeutic counselling service (6 face-to-face sessions) based at BMA House.

The Sick Doctors Trust is run by doctors who have had addiction issues and offers peer support and sign posting. It is part of Royal Medical Benevolent Fund. Contact the 24/7 confidential helpline on 0370 444 5163 or email help@sick-doctors-trust.co.uk

The Royal Medical Benevolent Fund also provides financial advice and support.

The Medical Protection Society provides counselling for members dealing with complaints / GMC investigations

The Medical Defence Union provides counselling for members dealing with complaints / GMC investigations.

British Doctors and Dentists Group is a self-help group for those recovering from addiction, meetings throughout UK but mainly in cities.

Doctors' Support Network is a peer support network for doctors with mental health concerns offering an online, confidential, anonymous support forum but no individual support.

Health Education England Deaneries have Professional Support Units (PSUs) or Professional Support and Wellbeing Services (PSW).

General support services (not specific to doctors)

MIND, the mental health charity, has a confidential telephone helpline (0300 123 3393) or text 86463. Available Monday–Friday, 9am–6pm.

SANE offer a confidential telephone helpline (0300 304 7000), available 4.30pm–10.30pm.

Rethink Mental Illness provides practical support and peer support groups. Has a confidential advice line (0300 500 0927) available Monday–Friday, 9.30am–4pm or email advice@rethink.org

No Panic has self-help groups for people with anxiety disorders, run as evening CBT teleconference courses.

Alcoholics Anonymous offers support groups and free helpline advice (0800 9177 650) and email help@aamail.org

Narcotics Anonymous has support groups in person and online. Telephone helpline (0300 999 1212) available 10am–midnight.

Find out more

The RCP’s Mental health and wellbeing resource aims to support physicians to stay well and seek help when needed by opening up the conversation about mental health issues and their impact.