Psychological support for people in hospitals: information for patients, relatives and carers


Patients who are in hospital or attending outpatients for medical reason or those being treated in primary care are often in need of psychological support. This may also include patients who have received bad news about their illness, those with an alcohol or drug problem, those in whom anxiety and depression have been detected, and patients with physical symptoms for which no medical explanation can be found. Suggestions that psychiatric support might help to find the cause of symptoms or alleviate distress can sometimes be regarded negatively with fear or embarrassment.

The Royal College of Physicians produced this short booklet in 2003, written especially for patients for whom psychiatric help has been or might be prescribed. It explains clearly how such help can be of benefit and answers the questions patients might wish to ask. It is intended for doctors or nurses to hand to patients for whom psychiatric help is recommended - whether in hospital or primary care - and for their relatives or carers. The booklet is available to download as a pdf.


  • Who is this booklet for?
  • What does it cover?
  • Helping you feel better
  • Can a physical illness or condition cause psychological difficulties?
  • What sort of help might I be offered?
  • If I see a psychiatrist will I be labelled as mentally ill?
  • What kind of drugs might I be prescribed and do they have any side effects?
  • What if I feel I can't carry on?
  • Specific issues
  • Family relationships
  • Sexual Problems
  • Physical symptoms that have no medical explanation
  • Terminal illness
  • Alcohol problems
  • Drug problems
  • Delirium, dementia and other physical conditions causing psychological difficulties
  • Capacity to consent to treatment

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