This guideline covers care for people aged 18 and over with common mental health problems, with a focus on primary care. It aims to improve access to services for adults and how mental health problems are identified and assessed, and makes recommendations on local care pathways.
Management of specific mental health problems is covered by NICE guidelines on depression, generalised anxiety disorder and panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and body dysmorphic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety disorder.
This guideline includes recommendations on:
- improving access to services
- stepped care
- identification and assessment
- treatment and referral for treatment
- developing local care pathways
Who is it for?
- Healthcare professionals
- Commissioners and providers
- Adults with mental health problems and their families and carers
Is this guideline up to date?
January 2023: We have checked this guideline and plan to temporarily withdraw the sections on stepped care, step 1: identification and assessment and steps 2 and 3: treatment and referral for treatment. For more information, see the surveillance decision.
Guideline development process
The recommendations in this guideline represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals and practitioners are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or the people using their service. It is not mandatory to apply the recommendations, and the guideline does not override the responsibility to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual, in consultation with them and their families and carers or guardian.
All problems (adverse events) related to a medicine or medical device used for treatment or in a procedure should be reported to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency using the Yellow Card Scheme.
Local commissioners and providers of healthcare have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual professionals and people using services wish to use it. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this guideline should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with complying with those duties.
Commissioners and providers have a responsibility to promote an environmentally sustainable health and care system and should assess and reduce the environmental impact of implementing NICE recommendations wherever possible.