Talk To Your Doctor

What do I need to do?

When you talk to your doctor for any reason, they need to understand what you’re experiencing before they can help. Since there aren’t always physical signs of mental health problems, you’ll need to describe what’s happening and how it affects you.

It’s often helpful to give specific situations instead of general statements. Here are two examples:

What will my doctor do?

Your doctor will have a lot of questions for you, like:

Your doctor may also check out your physical health. The signs of some mental health concerns can be linked to other health problems, so your doctor may look at your overall health.

What happens next?

It often takes a while to get a diagnosis for a mental health problem. Your doctor might ask you to track different signs, like your mood or anxiety levels, for a period of time. This will give a better idea of what you feel over time.

Depending on your experiences, you doctor may ask you to see a mental health specialist. This is called a “referral.” There are different kinds of mental health specialists, but doctors often ask people to see a psychiatrist or psychologist.

Tips for managing appointments

Doctors and other health professionals (like psychiatrists and psychologists) will need a lot of information. It can be a lot to deal with at once, especially if you don’t feel well. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your appointments.

Before the appointment

During the appointment

After the appointment

What doesn’t help?

There is a lot of health information out there, and it’s easy to decide what you think is wrong before you even see your doctor. This can cause problems between you and your doctor for a few reasons:

What if my doctor just doesn’t get it?

Unfortunately, a few doctors just don’t understand the problem. Some people dealing with mental health concerns may be told to just “get over it,” or some variation of that statement. It hurts, and it isn’t okay.

If you feel like a doctor’s visit just isn’t working, there are a couple of different options.

You can try to come to an agreement during the appoint:

If that doesn’t work, you can find a new doctor:

It can take a bit of time to find a new doctor, so it might be helpful to see if there are any drop-in or walk-in services in your community. Drop-in or walk-in just means that you don’t need an appointment to see someone. To find out what’s available in your community, try asking your school counsellor or family member. You can also find information through the Kids Help Phone, Youth In BC, HealthLink BC, or a local mental health organization.

Confidentiality

Do I need my parent’s permission to see a doctor?

In BC, you can make your own health care decisions if your doctor believes that you understand what’s happening and believes that care is in your best interest. You don’t have to be a certain age to see a doctor on your own.

If you need more complicated care, like treatment that lasts a long time, your doctor may suggest that your parents help you with medical decisions. But if your doctor thinks that you can make your own health decisions, they can’t talk to your parents about it without your permission.

Will my doctor tell anyone what I say?

In most cases, no. You doctor follow strict rules and can’t tell others what you say. Your doctor can only talk to other people if your say they can.

There are a couple of situations when your doctor will have to tell someone else. The first is abuse. If
your doctor thinks that someone abuses you or thinks that you are in danger, they have to tell someone. The second is risk of hurting yourself or others. Your doctor needs to have good reasons to believe that you will hurt yourself or someone else. In these cases, your doctor will try to talk to you about what’s going on first.

BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions Information. (2011). Working with your Doctor for Mental Disorders [workbook]. Vancouver, BC: Author. www.heretohelp.bc.ca/skills/managing-mental-disorders/doctor.

College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia. (2009, September). Resource Manual – Care of the Adolescent in Hospital and in Ambulatory Care. Vancouver, BC: Author. www.cpsbc.ca/files/u6/Care-of-the-Adolescent-in-Hospital-and-in-Ambulatory-Care.pdf.

Depression Alliance UK. (n.d.). Working With Your Doctor. London: Depression Alliance UK. www.depressionalliance.org/help-and-information/working-with-your-doctor.php.

Infants Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 223.

This content was originally created by the Canadian Mental Health Association BC Division. It is used under the terms of a Creative Commons License. More information can be found below.

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Take Action – Talk To Your Doctor by Canadian Mental Health Association BC Division is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License