Frequently asked questions 

It’s really important that you let family or friends know how you feel. They can support you and keep you safe. 

These free helplines can also help when you're feeling down or desperate:

Further information 

Most private psychiatrists would still prefer a referral from your GP. 

Your GP may be able to recommend psychiatrists who practise privately. Local private hospitals may also be able to advise you about this. 

Some psychiatrists may advertise online. If they have the title 'MRCPsych' (Member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists) or ‘FRCPsych’ (Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists), this means they’re current members of the College.


The College is unable to recommend or supply names of psychiatrists. In order to find a psychiatrist, you should ask your GP.

Sorry, but we can’t recommend or supply names of psychiatrists.

Solicitors can search through the lists of psychiatrists that are registered with any of the following websites:

We’re not the disciplinary body for our members and can’t deal with complaints about psychiatrists. 

You or someone you trust can write to, or speak with your psychiatrist to tell them how you feel.

If you’re unhappy with their response, you can complain to their employer, clinic or hospital using their complaints procedure.

If the complaint is to report serious misconduct, you can complain to the General Medical Council (Tel: 0161 923 6602).   

If you have concerns about a hospital, care home or health service, you should contact them first and follow their complaints procedure.

If you’re still unhappy, share your experience with the body which is responsible for the inspection of health and social care in your area:

A psychiatrist will have spent 5-6 years training as a medical doctor. 

They will then have worked as a doctor in general medicine and surgery for at least a year. Then will have at least six years of further training in helping people with psychological problems.

A psychologist has a degree in psychology and Chartered Clinical Psychologists are not required to go to medical school.

They’re interested in how people think, act, react and interact. For further information about psychology, visit the British Psychological Society website.

A psychotherapist will be a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professional who has had further specialist training in psychotherapy. 

As well as listening and discussing important issues with you, the psychotherapist can suggest strategies for resolving problems and help you to change your attitudes and behaviour.

The Mental Health Team is a group of mental health professionals who work together to help people with a wide range of mental health problems. 

The different professions all have different knowledge and skills which can be used to tackle problems together.

Further information

To see a psychiatrist, you’ll usually need a referral from your GP, in the same way you would with any other specialist. 

Within the NHS, most referrals will go to the mental health team and you may be seen by a team member who is not a psychiatrist.

If they think you should see a psychiatrist, they’ll arrange an appointment for you.

Further information 

We’re the professional medical body responsible for supporting psychiatrists throughout their careers.

This is from training through to retirement, and in setting and raising standards for psychiatry in the United Kingdom.

Further information

You can search our Public Online Membership List to see whether or not a psychiatrist is a member.

Please note that not all psychiatrists are members of the College.

Unfortunately not. We are the professional body for psychiatrists in the UK, but there are no psychiatrists based at the College.

We are unable to supply names of members, or to recommend psychiatrists.


You’ll be able to find which psychiatric organisation is relevant to your country by looking at the World Psychiatric Association website.

The World Psychiatric Association is a group of International Psychiatric Societies. We’re only able to advise on psychiatric practice in the United Kingdom. 

You can ask your GP or your psychiatrist to refer you to another psychiatrist for a second opinion.

Further information

You can complain to the clinic where the psychiatrist works. In cases of professional misconduct, you can also contact the General Medical Council (Tel: 0161 923 6602).

You should encourage them to go and see their GP. Further information about mental health problems and their treatment are available on our website.

If you’re worried about someone who is very unwell and appear to be a risk to themselves or others, please call the police or NHS 111

The police can take someone who appears to be very ill to a mental health professional for assessment and help.

We produce leaflets and online information about different mental health problems and treatments.

These include details of helplines and websites run by mental health charities and groups. You can download them from our mental health section.

NHS Choices also lists mental health helplines.


If you’re having a serious allergic reaction, please seek immediate help. 

Otherwise you should speak to whoever prescribed you the medication. They will tell you what to do. You can also report side effects to the Yellow Card Scheme to help make medicines safer. 

Further information

There are many different ways to find out this information. 

You can ask your:

  • GP 
  • Pharmacist 
  • Psychiatrist 
  • Mental Health Team 

You could look up information on medications in the British National Formulary (BNF). This is a directory of drugs which are listed alphabetically.

Some drug companies run helplines. Contact details are available on the drug information leaflet or pack label.

The Electronic Medicines Compendium (EMC) website stores a copy of all approved drug information leaflets. 

We also have information on some drugs and therapies that are used to treat specific mental health problems, such as Alzheimer's disease.


The Mental Health Act 1983 is a law that allows for people who are mentally unwell to be admitted to hospital for assessment and treatment against their wishes. 

Many people will be admitted to hospital as informal patients; this means that they have voluntarily agreed to go.

However, compulsory admission (or ‘sectioning’) may be necessary if someone posing a risk to their own health or to other people refuses to go. 

Further information

Please call the police, or the ambulance service (999). 

The police can take someone who appears very ill to see a doctor for assessment and help.