If you have concerns about your emotional wellbeing, taking the steps to get help can feel overwhelming. This resource outlines the different health professionals available and what they can do.
General Practitioner – Your GP is a great first contact. He or she can make a diagnosis and/or discuss referrals to specialists as well as prescribe medication. If your GP completes a Mental Health Treatment Plan, you can even get Medicare rebates for psychological treatment. Choose “General Practitioner” in Beyond Blue’s “Find a Professional” tool below to find a GP that specialises in treating common mental health issues.
Psychologist – Clinical psychologists have specialist training in the assessment, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of a wide range of mental health issues. They are qualified to provide a range of techniques and therapies in individually tailored interventions. You don’t need a referral, but in order to claim a Medicare rebate you will need your GP to complete a Mental Health Treatment Plan. If you have private health insurance and extras cover, you may be able to claim part of a psychologist’s fee. You can search for a psychologist based on location and expertise on the Australian Psychological Society website.
Psychiatrist – A psychiatrist is a qualified medical doctor who can prescribe medication, provide psychological therapies (e.g. cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), psychody- namic therapy and family therapy), and organise support services and assistance for individuals and their families. A referral from a GP is needed to see a psychiatrist. Rebates can also be claimed through Medicare. You can search for a psychiatrist according to expertise and location on The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.
Counsellor – A counsellor is a trained professional who can help you work out your personal problems through talk-based therapy. They can work in a variety of settings, including youth services, private practices, community health centres, schools and universities. Counselling is usually a short-term treatment for a specific problem. Unfortunately, anyone can call themselves a ‘counsellor’, even if they don’t have training or experience. For this reason, it is important to ask for information about the counsellor’s qualifications and whether they are registered with a state board or a professional society. A good counsellor will be happy to provide you with this information.
Beyond Blue’s “Find A Professional” Tool – People living in rural and remote communities may find it difficult to access health care. If a General Practitioner or other mental health professional is not readily available, there are a number of help and information lines available through Beyond Blue that may be able to assist and provide information or advice. For people with internet access, it may be beneficial in some cases to try online e-therapies. Medicare covers telehealth consultations, and your General Practitioner can provide more information on this service.