How to get assessed for ADHD in the UK

What you'll learn

Summary

How to get assessed for ADHD

  • The official pathway to be assessed for ADHD in the UK begins with your GP
  • Due to the NHS bottleneck that has now transferred onto the Right to Choose service, you will need to assess which route is shorter for you based on your postcode and choice of provider, whether it is via NHS or private service.
  • A useful reference (DIVA form) is provided which helps you prepare for the semi-structured interview.
  • Join a supportive community of like-minded people 

We recently wrote a blog about how in 2021 thousands of women took online tests to find out if they had ADHD. According to a report in The Independent, around 254,400 women took the test online – a figure up drastically from around 7,700 during 2019.

It’s thought that the spike in diagnoses has come about because of the realisation that women and girls’ symptoms of ADHD are different from those experienced by boys and men. In the past, women may have been treated with antidepressants to counter their symptoms, having been misdiagnosed as suffering from a mental health disorder.

In this blog we aim to help women in the UK explore the pathway to take if they think they might have ADHD. Read on to find out how to understand your brain and get an assessment.

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Taking the first steps towards an adult diagnosis for ADHD can be filled with uncertainties. Despite the limitations and struggles facing our health service, there is a pathway to take for a referral. Here’s a suggested place to start to help you navigate the diagnosis and referral system:

  • Do an online test: Take the adult ADHD self-report scale test to get an initial indication of your likelihood of suffering from ADHD. Before your GP will refer you to a specialist, you’ll be asked to fill this in to see if you meet the criteria for referral. Don’t lose heart if you’ve struggled to answer the questions involved in this pre-assessment. The questions are based on research done in hyperactive white boys and so are not reflective of the symptoms that may present in diverse identities outside that group.
  • Talk to your GP: Take your pre-assessment form to your GP and have an honest and open discussion about why you think you have ADHD. Once you’ve talked things through with your GP, he or she will decide, with you, whether to refer you for further support. Find out how long the waiting list is so you have an idea how long you might wait.
  • Decide on your provider: If you decide the list is too long, you have the right to choose an alternative provider in England. Use this page from ADHD UK to find an alternative provider which could be paid for by your local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). You can, of course, pay to go private if you can afford it and need support immediately.  This might be a good idea if your workplace requires a formal diagnosis before making adjustments for you.

It always pays to simplify the process of assessment as much as possible. Once the specialist team has given you an appointment, you will be sent a number of forms which needs to be filled in by someone who knows you as a child and can vouch for your current self, and a self assessment rating scale. We would recommend you use the DIVA form as a reference to help you prepare for the semi-structured interview that you will have with your psychiatrist.

Once you’ve done that, watch our YouTube episode featuring an interview with consultant psychiatrist Dr Muffazal Rawala. He specialises in adult ADHD – particularly in women – and is also involved in medical education.

Sari Solden, Psychotherapist specialising in adult ADHD said, “As a woman navigating your life following your ADHD diagnosis, it is about understanding your brain, forming a new identity and integrating these new ideas about yourself.

Getting a diagnosis for ADHD is a big step to understanding yourself and treating yourself with more compassion. If you need more support to prepare for your ADHD assessment, please join the ADHD Girls’ free WhatsApp community for women with ADHD. Use this link to join the group.

Alternatively, if you’d like a 1:1 session where Sam holds a safe space for you to speak about your journey, you can book a mentoring session here

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