What is psychiatry?
Psychiatry is a medical speciality that manages the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental health conditions.
A doctor who works in psychiatry is called a psychiatrist. Psychiatrists are medically qualified doctors who have chosen to specialise in psychiatry. This means they can prescribe medication as well as recommend other forms of treatment.
Psychiatrists can work in community mental health teams, in outpatient clinics or hospital wards. Some carry out sessions in GP surgeries and private hospital outpatient departments.
What conditions can psychiatrists treat?
Mental health conditions that may be diagnosed and treated by a psychiatrist include:
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Personality disorders
- Schizophrenia and paranoia
- Depression and bipolar disorder
- Eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia
- Sleep disorders, such as insomnia
- Addictions, such as drug or alcohol misuse
Getting an appointment with a psychiatrist
Your GP may be able to recommend psychiatrists in your area. You can also see a psychiatrist privately, at a BMI Hospital you can usually self-refer; contact your local BMI hospital for more information. You can also try contacting a psychiatric clinic directly or using online services such as Psychiatry UK.
You'll see a psychiatrist who specialises in the area of psychiatry most relevant to your circumstances. The main areas of expertise include:
- Childhood and adolescent psychiatry
- General adult psychiatry
- Older person's psychiatry
- Learning disabilities
- Psychotherapy (talking therapies)
You can check the details of a psychiatrist, including their area of speciality, by looking on the medical register, a directory of all practising doctors in the UK.
If they have the letters MRCPsych (Member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists) or FRCPsych (Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists) after their name, they are a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych).
Paying for your treatment
Psychiatry costs are covered by most medical insurance policies, but please check with your insurer first. If you are paying for your own treatment, the cost of any treatments and appointments will be explained and confirmed in writing when you book the appointment. Ask the hospital for a quote before you book any appointments if you are concerned.
The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you. For more information about mental health services please call BMI Healthcare to arrange an appointment with a healthcare professional on 0808 101 0337.
Information with Thanks to Liam Callinan.