Depression - Professional services


What professionals can help me?

So, you are depressed. What can you do about it?

We have a page on Self-help options and Depression Treatments, but what professionals might you meet on your journey to recovery? Well here we look at who those people might be and what they do.

NHS Services

In the UK, you could visit your GP and ask his or her advice on a way forward. It is estimated that 1 in 4 GP consultations are with people with ‘mental health problems’ (Source: DoH).

GPs generally manage most cases of depression without resource to further specialist help. This could be by talking through the issues with you and giving you general guidance or through medication.

The more severe your depression is, or becomes, the more likely the GP is to advise medication or request specialist help such as from a counsellor, psychologist, psychotherapist or psychiatrist.

What might be the next step?

The vast majority of people with depression in contact with Mental Health Services will be treated in the community, but a small percentage might be admitted to hospital should the depression be considered severe enough.

In England and Wales, a GP is likely to follow the guidance of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). One common difficulty with accessing specialist help through the National Health Service is obtaining this help quickly. 

Although the government is beginning to improve access, you may still have to wait several weeks to be seen. If you are offered therapy, this is likely to be 6-8 sessions over 10-12 weeks.

The people you are likely to be referred to should you use NHS services include:


A counsellor is generally based at your GP surgery. They will generally have a Diploma in Counselling and be members of the BACP. Mainly, they work with a person-centred model of therapy.


Psychologists are educated to doctorate level or equivalent. They have degrees in psychology and will have undertaken 3 years further study in their specialist area. Psychologists commonly work in specialist teams and you are likely to see them within the team setting. They are trained in psychological assessment and in a variety of talking therapies. They are regulated under the HPC.


Psychotherapists generally train for 4 years to masters level. They will generally specialise in one form of psychotherapy though may have training in others. Psychotherapists are likely to be members of the UKCP.


Psychiatrists are medically trained doctors specialising in ‘mental illness’ and will have completed a medical degree. They are trained in diagnosis and psychotherapy and can prescribe medication. In the UK, the specialist training required from completing a medical degree can take 8-9 years.

Specialists in Private Sector

If you feel you need to see a specialist more quickly (or for longer), you can either do this through your healthcare company (if you have medical insurance) or Employee Assistance Scheme at work (many companies operate schemes) or by paying a specialist direct. Your company may also have a resident counselling service or an occupational health service who could advise. If you are looking for a specialist to help you, you may wish to go on recommendation. Otherwise, you should use the website of the relevant professional body to find an accredited practitioner. 

Further reading

For more Information on Depression, please visit:

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