Questions To Ask

It’s good to be fully informed about the mental health issues that the person you care for is dealing with. But what sort of things should you ask? We’ve put together questions for you to put to healthcare professionals. You don’t have to ask them all. Some will be more relevant than others to your particular situation.

About the diagnosis

  • What illness or diagnosis do I (the person I care for) have?
  • How is this diagnosis made?
  • What is known about the causes?
  • Where can I get written information about this condition?
  • If a diagnosis has not been made, what are the possibilities?
  • Will the person get better/recover?

About care and treatment

  • What is the plan for treating my mental health problem?
  • What are the aims of the care and treatment?
  • Who will be involved in the treatment?
  • How often will appointments be made to see a member of the clinical team, and which member of the team will this involve?
  • Will I have a key worker, and who will this be?
  • How long will this treatment last?
  • When should I start noticing an improvement?
  • Would psychotherapy (taking treatment) help? Is it available close to where I live?
  • What support and services are available for carers and families and how do I get them?
  • What do I do if I'm unhappy/unsure of any element of treatment?

About medication

  • What medication is being used and why?
  • How often will the medication be reviewed?
  • What is the name of the medication?
  • Can you provide written information about the medication?
  • Where can I print information? (links to Patient information Leaflets etc)
  • What is it used for?
  • How does it work?
  • How should I take it?
  • When should I take it?
  • How soon should I notice a change?
  • How long will it take to work?
  • How long will it need to be taken for?
  • Is it addictive?
  • Can I stop taking it suddenly?
  • What should I do if I forget to take it?
  • Are there side effects, and if so, what sort of side-effects might occur?
  • If I experience side effects what should I do about it?
  • Will it make me drowsy?
  • Will it cause me to put on weight?
  • Will it affect my sex life?
  • Can I drive while I am taking it?
  • Can I drink alcohol while I am taking it?
  • Are there any foods or drinks that should be avoided?
  • Will it affect my other medication?
  • Are there any problems with smoking with this medicine?
  • What is the lowest effective dose?
  • Can the dose be increased when necessary?
  • What is the maximum dose?
  • Will I need blood tests?
  • Are there other medication choices?
  • Are there non-pharmaceutical alternatives to this medication?

For Women:

  • If I am on the contraceptive pill, will it be affected?
  • Will emergency contraception (“morning after pill”) work?
  • Will it affect my periods (menstrual cycle)
  • What if I want to start a family or find I’m pregnant?
  • Can I breast-feed if I am taking this?

Questions to ask self about medication

  • What do I hope to improve about my life by taking medication right now?
  • What medication(s) have I taken before? At what dosage and for how long?
  • What was helpful or unhelpful about those medications?
  • The thing that worries me the most about taking medication is_____

Hospital treatment

  • Do I (or the person I care for) need to come into hospital?
  • What are the alternatives to hospital admission?
  • If I (the person I care for) has to go into hospital, which one would it be?
  • What arrangement will be made for care to be given once I (he or she) leaves hospital?
  • If the person I care for is discharged and I am unable to look after them, what will happen?
  • Can I have a copy of the aftercare plan

Mental Health Act

  • What does it mean to be admitted to hospital under a section in the Mental Health Act?
  • What section of the Act is relevant in this case and what does it mean?