Referring to Mental Health Services


When referring to mental health services, you may find it useful to use the standard SBAR approach. Below is an outline of information that the mental health team will likely want to know about the patient when you are referring them. 


  • Patient name, age, and CHI number
  • Presenting issue(s)
  • Current legal status of the patient


  • Current input from mental health services
    • are they seen by the community team?
    • do they have a CPN (Community Psychiatric Nurse)?
  • Previous contact with mental health services
    • Have they ever been admitted to a Psychiatric hospital? 
    • Have they ever been detained under the mental health act?
    • Any history of self harm?
  • Patient's social situation
    • Do they have any social support?
    • Social care involvement?
    • For children, details about their home situation are particularly important


  • Findings from the history
  • Findings from the mental state examination
  • Brief summary of physical health status and any recent investigation/observation results
  • Differential diagnosis
  • Risk assessment


  • What is your plan for this patient? 
  • Reason for referral 
    • Would you like advice from the mental health team?
    • Would you like a review from the mental health team? 

Last reviewed: 21/02/2024

Next review date: 21/08/2024

Author(s): Medical Education Fellow, NHS Lothian.

Author email(s):

Reviewer name(s): Medical Education Fellow, NHS Lothian.