Treatment of patients with mental health needs can incorporate various professionals, including psychiatric nurses, social workers, clinical psychologists, psychotherapists, and occupational therapists. The psychiatrist works together with these professionals as part of a multidisciplinary team at GetWell Behavioral Health . 

Individuals with mental health conditions like depression or anxiety often require medication and see a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner. These are the only two types of providers able to prescribe medication.

We are here you help you, connect with us at GetWell Behavioral Health to schedule an appointment and get started with an individual treatment plan based on your specific needs.

Should you see a Psychiatrist or Therapist (Psychologist) first?

At GetWell Behavioral Health, during your first reach out to us, we can guide you to the right provider to meet your needs and build a plan together to get you the help you need. It’s not on you alone to make those first decisions on care. We offer a complete support network that can be customized for you quickly and can be modified based on your needs at the time and your progress to your goals. For those struggling with their mental health, seeking help is an essential step toward living a full and meaningful life. But knowing what kind of practitioner will provide the most effective treatment is not always clear. The good news is that experienced mental health professionals at GetWell Behavioral Health have the training and knowledge necessary to help clients decide about the direction of their treatment. 

Psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, and psychologists/therapist’s and mental health case managers can play an interconnected role in building out and supporting your mental health care plan. But in general, here are some things to consider to get you started deciding whether to see a psychologist/therapist or psychiatrist first. 

  • If you want to spend time talking about an issue and working through it in a one-on-one session, a psychologist/therapist might be a good fit. 
  • If you’re interested in pursuing psychiatric medication for symptom relief for a mental health disorder, you may want to start by talking with a psychiatrist.  
  • If the issue you’re hoping to address is relationship-focused, say a problem at work or with a family member, you may find what you need from a psychologist/therapist.
  • If you are experiencing debilitating mental health symptoms interfering with your daily life, a psychiatrist may be a good place to start. 

Psychiatrists and psychologists/therapists are both concerned with helping people optimize their mental wellness, and both are often trained in a variety of treatment modalities. You don’t have to know exactly what you need before you reach out for help. Usually, clients start with a Psychiatrist to develop a mental health care plan and initiate medication treatments and then progress to a therapist to help with medication management and help you achieve your goals through the mental health plan overseen by the psychiatrist. 

What do Mental Health Experts Do?

GetWell Behavioral Health is a multi-specialty mental health group offering specialists in the areas below. We want to demystify who does what and who’s been trained to do what best, so we offer this diagram below for your insight. The best place to start is by connecting with us, and we can help match you up when you schedule an appointment at GetWell Behavioral Health. They’ll listen to your reasons for seeking help, assess your symptoms, evaluate your medical, psychiatric, and family history, and help you decide on a course of action moving forward.

Areas We Cover
Depression, ADHD, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, PTSD, OCD, Trauma, Grief, Personality Disorders, Eating Disorders, Addiction, Identity, Marriage Counseling, & More


A psychiatrist is a medical specialist who can diagnose and treat mental health issues and emotional problems. These disorders can involve emotions, behavior, perceptions, and thinking. Treatment of mental health problems depends on various professionals, including psychiatric nurses, social workers, clinical psychologists, psychotherapists, and occupational therapists. The psychiatrist works together with these professionals as part of a multidisciplinary team. They assess patients and make diagnoses, and they may investigate medical problems, offer advice, and recommend different treatments, including medication, therapy, or other lifestyle interventions. 

Psychiatrists are doctors with a degree in medicine who assess and manage mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, psychosis, personality disorders, intellectual difficulties, or addictions. Psychiatrists will usually have a particular specialist interest, i.e., mental health problems in children (child & adolescent psychiatrist), adults (general adult psychiatrists), older adults (old age or later life psychiatrists), addictions (addiction psychiatrist), or people with intellectual disabilities (intellectual disability psychiatrists). Psychiatrists have expertise in the assessment of mental health problems, in the evaluation of risk (i.e., of suicide or violence), and the management of mental illness. Psychiatrists employ treatments including talking therapies, social interventions, and medications to manage mental health problems. The psychiatrist works as part of a multi-disciplinary team but will also be aware of a wide range of other helpful resources in the community, such as peer support groups, counseling services, volunteer organizations, etc. A consultant psychiatrist often functions as the multidisciplinary team leader, coordinating the work of psychiatric registrars and the other team members to provide the highest quality care for individual patients.

Psychiatrists provide and recommend a range of treatments, including:

  • psychological treatment (also called psychotherapy or talking therapy)
  • medication

They will also offer practical advice about diet, sleep, and other ways to help yourself get better. They will provide you with information about your condition, which can help you to understand your symptoms and treatments.

Your psychiatrist will only suggest treatments that are proven to be safe and effective.

Your psychiatrist will explain:

  • why they recommend this treatment
  • how it works
  • what the side effects are
  • any risks of the treatment

A psychiatrist can be of particular help if your mental health condition:

  • is complex or difficult to diagnose
  • involves suicidal ideas or plans
  • is severe or happens suddenly
  • needs medication that only a psychiatrist can prescribe
  • isn’t responding to standard treatment through your GP (family doctor).
  • problems adjusting after significant life changes or stress
  • anxiety, worry, or fear
  • depressed or low mood that doesn’t go away
  • suicidal thinking
  • thoughts of hurting other people
  • hurting yourself on purpose
  • too much energy, being unable to sleep, wind down or relax
  • constant negative thoughts
  • obsessional thinking
  • feeling on edge or jumpy
  • feeling like people are after you or want to harm you
  • hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that aren’t there)
  • delusions (fixed beliefs with no basis in reality)
  • rushing, disjointed thoughts
  • out of control alcohol or drug use
  • problem gambling, gaming, or other addictive behaviors
  • problems around body image, eating or dieting
  • memory problems
  • poor concentration and attention, hyperactivity
  • violence, agitation, or emotional outbursts
  • insomnia and other sleep problems
  • conditions that start in childhood, such as autism, intellectual disability, and childhood anxiety.

Psychiatric Nurse

There are three basic types of nurses; general nurses, psychiatric nurses, and intellectual disability nurses. Psychiatric nurses undergo a degree course in the assessment and care of people with mental health problems. A psychiatric nurse practitioner has a master’s degree or Ph.D. specializing in psychiatric mental health care and is certified as a PMHNP. The Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) credential requires an exam, advanced practice registered nurse license, a certificate in their chosen specialty, and 2,000 continuing clinical education hours. 

A nurse practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse who has completed graduate-level or doctorate-level continuing education in nursing. An NP holds either a master’s degree or a doctorate in nursing and can provide much of the same care doctors do—they’re able to see patients, develop treatment plans, and prescribe medication.  

Nurse practitioners conduct physical and mental health assessments, psychotherapy, design treatment plans, prescribe psychopharmaceuticals and other medicines, offer therapy, work with other mental healthcare professionals, and educate patients on mental health and well-being. The exact role of a PMHNP or an NP will vary based on your individual need. 

Psychiatric nurses treat a wide variety of clients, including those who suffer from mental illness or issues including:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • ADHD
  • Substance abuse
  • Schizophrenia
  • Trauma
  • PTSD
  • Postpartum depression
  • And other mental illness

A psychiatric nurse practitioner has had additional continuing education and training in psychiatric/mental health nursing. Just like psychiatrists, psychiatric NPs provide mental health services to individuals, families, and communities. 

Should I use a Psychiatric Nurse?

GetWell Behavioral Health offers both types of psychiatric providers. Still, due to community need around mental health care, it is sometimes quicker to be scheduled and get treatment started with a psychiatric nurse. If there is a deeper level of need, your prescribing nurse will refer you to the Psychiatrist. 

Your appointment will be the same with a psychiatric NP as it is with a psychiatrist. Psychiatric nurse practitioners can diagnose and treat all psychiatric, emotional, and behavioral disorders, including bipolar disorder, substance abuse, anxiety, and depression. Nurse practitioners can work autonomously and can do the same things in appointments with patients as psychiatrists, including:

  • Evaluate and diagnose patients
  • Conduct regular therapy appointments with patients, families, and groups
  • Order diagnostic testing
  • Prescribe medications
  • Make referrals
  • Monitor treatment outcomes
  • Monitor a patient’s overall wellbeing

There are many different types of professionals offering mental health services, and options for receiving mental health care have grown in recent years (consider options like our telehealth psychiatry or online therapy offered by GetWell Behavioral Health to see your provider virtually to initiate or continue care). Depending on each individual’s needs, they may choose to see a psychiatrist, licensed nurse practitioner, a licensed therapist or counselor, or a licensed clinical social worker.

Individuals with mental health conditions like depression or anxiety often require medication, should see a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner. These are the only two types of providers able to prescribe medication.

GetWell Behavioral Health Psychiatric Services:

General Adult Psychiatry involves looking after people between the ages of 18 and 65 who have a mental illness. Within General Adult Psychiatry, a wide range of disorders are treated. These include manifestations of “organic” brain disorders such as Huntington’s Disease, psychoses such as schizophrenia, severe or difficult to treat depressive illness, and personality disorders. More so than ever, the psychiatrist works as an integral part of a team of many different professionals.

The General Adult Psychiatry specialization is developing. In many areas of the country, psychiatrists specialize in different areas. Some work solely with inpatients and others solely in the community – the challenges are often different and require different skills in additional measures.

In addition to specializing as a result of how or where mental health services are delivered, there are other areas of subspecialization. These include Rehabilitation (or Recovery) Psychiatry, Liaison Psychiatry, Addiction Psychiatry, Eating Disorder Psychiatry, and Perinatal Psychiatry. These areas require General Adult psychiatrists to employ a subtly different mix of skills and knowledge base to care for each person on an individual basis.

Psychiatry’s understanding of the disorders treated is developing, as are the treatments themselves. These include a better experience of how to deliver treatments effectively to those who need them. This is, therefore, a rapidly changing area of psychiatry.

Children’s lives do not occur in a vacuum; therefore, psychiatrists in this specialty promote best practice that requires a holistic approach to the needs of children and adolescents with mental health problems.

Child & Adolescent Psychiatrists are mainly responsible for treating mental, behavioral and emotional disorders of children and adolescents. As with other psychiatry specialties, they work with a team of GPs, community psychiatric nurses, social workers, psychologists, occupational therapists, and physiotherapists.

Mental health problems in children that are more severe than their parents can deal with without professional help are not solely the concern of mental health services. Children and adolescents’ development and overall functioning concern a wide range of services and agencies, such as education, community care, and pediatric medicine. Mental health services cannot respond to mental health needs in isolation.

Psychiatry of Old Age (or later life) focuses on the mental health needs of people over the age of 65. Mental health problems for those over 65 are similar to those in the general adult age group.

The role of a psychiatrist specializing in Old Age Psychiatry involves pharmacological, psychological, and social aspects of dealing with people with mental health problems and cognitive impairment (such as dementia).

An Old Age psychiatrist can work with many different professionals – community psychiatric nurses, social workers, psychologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, geriatricians, and neurologists – in a wide range of settings such as community bases, general hospitals, and university hospitals.

Old Age Psychiatry aims to provide a comprehensive psychiatric service for older people; therefore, services are usually based on the principle of domiciliary assessment, and close cooperation with general hospitals and community care programs since the needs of older adults are frequently complex and require an integrated approach.

Those looking after patients in Old Age psychiatric services closely monitor them so that older adults can have their needs met as they arise. The community mental health nurses have a vital role in this monitoring process and liaising with public health nurses, in particular, to ensure the necessary support is provided to maintain people, for example, with dementia, at home for as long as possible.

A general learning disability is not a mental illness.

However, children and adults with a learning disability are more likely to develop psychological, behavioral, and mental health problems, for example, anxiety, depression, autism spectrum disorders, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Learning Disability Psychiatry is concerned with mental health problems associated with a learning disability, such as behavioral and emotional disorders. A Learning Disability Psychiatrist works to diagnose and treat mental health disorders, including behavioral and emotional problems.

Learning Disability Psychiatrists work as part of a multidisciplinary team to provide treatment and support patients with learning disabilities and mental health problems. Learning Disability Psychiatry work may occur in general hospitals but typically in places like clinics, community care centers, and family residences.

Addiction Psychiatry is the branch of psychiatry that specializes in understanding and treating those who have problems with alcohol or drugs. They often work in multidisciplinary teams with nurses, addiction therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, and social workers. You can view our Addiction and Recovery page to find out more.

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