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Where to go for emotional and mental health advice and support

A good place to start would be your HIV clinic. Your HIV doctor should take your mental health as seriously as your physical health. Many of the larger HIV clinics have expert HIV mental health teams.

GPs can also provide help and support with mental health problems. Many GP practices now have some form of counselling available. They can also refer you on to specialist services if necessary. You can find out more in the booklet in this series, HIV, GPs & other primary care.

Information on HIV helplines which can provide information and support are listed at the back of this booklet. The following counselling, mental health and information organisations may also be useful.

Mind

A national mental health charity, with local branches, providing information and advice on a wide range of mental health problems and treatments.

Mind Infoline: 0300 123 3393

There is also a Mind Legal Advice Line, which can be contacted on 0300 466 6463

www.mind.org.uk  

Rethink

A national mental health charity, providing information and advice on mental health topics and running services and support groups across England.

Helpline: 0300 5000 927, Monday to Friday, 10am to 2pm.

www.rethink.org

SANE

Mental health charity providing support and information by telephone and email.

Helpline 0845 767 8000

www.sane.org.uk

PACE

PACE provides counselling for gay men and lesbians in London on issues including HIV.

020 7700 1323

www.pacehealth.org.uk

Samaritans

Confidential emotional support 24 hours a day

08457 90 90 90

www.samaritans.org

The Royal College of Psychiatrists

This is the professional and educational body for psychiatrists. It produces information leaflets on a range of mental health problems and treatments.

www.rcpsych.ac.uk

NHS Choices

Provides information on looking after mental health, and getting help with mental health problems, or problems with alcohol or drugs.

www.nhs.uk.

To find a counsellor or therapist:

The best way to find a supportive counsellor or therapist is often through personal recommendation. Alternatively, you can ask at your clinic, another HIV organisation or GP surgery about their services or contacts they may have.

You can also find a counsellor or therapist through a nationally recognised organisation.

Many counsellors and psychotherapists are registered with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) or the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP). You can find their members at www.itsgoodtotalk.org.uk and www.psychotherapy.org.uk. There is information on both websites about choosing a therapist and the different types of talking therapies and of counselling qualifications.

Most psychologists in the UK are members of the British Psychological Society (BPS). To search for a psychologist, visit www.bps.org.uk.

Counsellors or therapists who are not registered with one of these bodies may still be well trained and very experienced, but it’s a good idea to check their qualifications and see if they belong to a professional body.

Alternatively, you can ask at an HIV organisation, mental health charities, your HIV clinic or your GP about local therapy services or specialist services for issues such as addiction or postnatal depression. Again, always make sure these therapists belong to a nationally recognised organisation and/or that they have a licence to practise.

The NHS’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) initiative also provides online cognitive behavioural therapy. Generally, access to this service is by referral from your GP, but you can self-refer to some IAPT services. See what is available in your area at www.iapt.nhs.uk/services.

To find a complementary therapist:

Finally, many people find that complementary therapies, such as acupuncture or massage, can be very beneficial in reducing physical discomfort or stress. Again, always search for a practitioner via a reputable agency such as the Complementary Therapists Association (CThA), which is recognised by the Department of Health (www.complementary.assoc.org.uk).

Who to contact if you need urgent support

If you feel like harming or hurting yourself or other people:

  • Call 999
  • Go to your nearest Accident and Emergency department (A&E). You can search for your local department through the NHS Choices website.

For non-emergency situations:

  • Visit your GP
  • Call NHS 111 (formerly NHS Direct) – open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They can tell you about your local crisis support services or your nearest A&E.

    Tel: 111

    Web: www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk

Mental health services

If you are already receiving support from mental health services, you should have a care plan. This will include details of who you should contact in a crisis.  

If you can't find your care plan:

During the day

Contact your Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) and ask for your care co-ordinator or the person on duty.

During evenings, weekends or bank holidays

Call your local crisis team. NHS 111 will be able to give you details of your local team.

HIV organisations

Here are the details of just some of the organisations which support people living with HIV. To find out about organisations in your local area, call THT Direct (0808 802 1221), ask at your HIV clinic, or visit www.aidsmap.com/e-atlas.

Body & Soul

Body & Soul is a charity providing support for children, teenagers and families living with, or affected by HIV.

020 7923 6880

www.bodyandsoulcharity.org

George House Trust

George House Trust provides a wide range of support and other services for people living with HIV in the northwest of England, as well as working to shape attitudes and raise awareness within the wider community. GHT offers counselling services looking at circumstances including relationship problems, bereavement, low self-esteem, isolation and loneliness to coming to terms with a HIV diagnosis.

0161 274 4499

www.ght.org.uk

Living Well

Living Well is a not-for-profit social enterprise. It provides counselling, group peer support services and courses for people living with HIV in London.

020 3137 3373

www.livingwellcic.com

NAZ Project London

NAZ Project London provides sexual health and HIV prevention and support services to selected black and minority ethnic (BME) communities in London. NAZ offers a short-term counselling service for adults from BME communities facing problems and questions about their relationships, sexuality, sexual health and/or HIV.

020 8741 1879

www.naz.org.uk

Positive East

A community-based HIV charity, providing a range of services for people living with HIV or affected by HIV in East London. Positive East provides counselling and psychotherapy services, offering free and confidential one-to-one support around issues such as coming to terms with an HIV diagnosis, sexual identity, relationships and personal crises.

020 7791 2855

www.positiveeast.org.uk

Positively UK

Positively UK is a national charity providing support for people living with HIV. People living with HIV answer their helpline. They will ring you back free of charge.

020 7713 0444

www.positivelyuk.org

Shaka Services

Shaka Services provides culturally appropriate care and support services and free advice on issues including sexual health, HIV treatment, emotional support, welfare rights, social care, housing and immigration. Shaka Services provides confidential counselling and emotional support on HIV and related issues for people from African and Caribbean communities living with or affected by HIV in London.

020 7735 6744

www.shakaservices.org.uk

THT Direct

Information on HIV treatment, as well as on other aspects of living with HIV and support and advocacy services throughout the UK, and details of these and services provided by other HIV organisations.

0808 802 1221, Monday to Friday, 10am to 8pm

www.tht.org.uk

HIV, mental health & emotional wellbeing

Published December 2014

Last reviewed December 2014

Next review December 2017

Contact NAM to find out more about the scientific research and information used to produce this booklet.

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.