Many people turn to their friends and family first if they don't feel well. People who need professional help for psychological problems can first talk to their family doctor, a psychosocial counselor or go straight to a psychotherapist or psychiatrist. In an emergency there are also psychiatric practices with emergency services as well as psychiatric clinics.
Psychosocial counseling centers offer help for a variety of issues, including family, women, childcare and addiction. The staff at such centers have different professional backgrounds. You might find, for example, doctors, social workers (in German: Sozialpädagogen and Sozialarbeiter), psychologists, psychotherapists, as well as specially trained care workers all working together to help people solve their problems. The counseling centers are usually funded by supporting organizations, subsidies and donations. They do not offer therapy themselves, but they can offer advice, information about support options, and initiate contact.
Social psychiatric services are another point of contact. In Germany they are run by local health authorities and can be used for free by everybody. They particularly support people who need treatment for acute or chronic mental illnesses. The social psychiatric service teams are also made up of doctors, care workers, psychotherapists and social workers. The centers generally do not offer therapy themselves but can determine whether somebody requires treatment. They also offer extra support to people who are currently in therapy or have recently been in a clinic. Family, friends and colleagues can also contact the social psychiatric service if they have the feeling that somebody they know needs help. Where necessary the social psychiatric services also offer home visits.
Just like therapists, the staff at the social psychiatric services and psychosocial counseling centers are obliged to maintain patient confidentiality.