If you’ve been feeling out of sorts for a while, seeking professional help can help you get your mental health back on track.
Asking for help can feel daunting, especially if poor mental health is already making your everyday life more challenging.
Fortunately, the first step towards feeling better is as simple as visiting your doctor.
Talk to your doctor about your concerns
Your regular General Practitioner (or GP) is your first point of contact for help with mental health issues.
They can provide care and support for your concerns, and help you access a range of commissioned mental health and suicide prevention services.
They can also work with you to create a personalised mental health care plan.
What is a mental health care plan?
A mental health care plan is a plan to treat your mental health issues. It sets the outcomes you and your doctor hope to achieve, and lays out the steps to get there.
It might include appointments with a range of suitable professionals, like psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers or occupational therapists.
A mental health care plan also makes your treatment more affordable, by allowing you to claim your appointments on Medicare. You’ll be able to claim a Medicare rebate on up to 20 individual sessions or group appointments in a calendar year. After the first 6 sessions, you’ll need to check in with your doctor to access the remaining sessions, if you need them.
Who can get a mental health care plan?
You don’t need to have an existing mental health diagnosis to talk to your doctor about a mental health care plan.
Whether your concern is minor or serious, short or long term, a mental health care plan gives you access to any help you need to feel well again.
How do I get a mental health care plan?
To speak to a doctor about getting a mental health care plan, you should:
- make an appointment with your GP, requesting a longer appointment time if possible,
- tell your doctor about your mental health concerns, and
- provide detailed answers to the questions your doctor asks you
Based on your responses, your doctor can then work with you to develop your mental health care plan. They may also recommend other resources if they decide a plan is not the best solution for your situation.
What if I’m not sure I need help?
It’s normal to feel uncertain about getting professional help. You might feel things aren’t ‘bad enough’, or feel embarrassed to admit you’re having trouble.
Trust your instincts. If you have your own concerns about your mental health, it’s a good sign you should talk to someone. If you’re still unsure, find out how to know when you should seek help.
Mental health issues are among the most common reasons people see their doctors. You can rest assured that your GP will listen compassionately to your concerns, big or small, and help you find the right pathway to feeling better.
Any conversations you have with your health care professionals are confidential, and can’t be shared without your permission. Read more about privacy and your mental health.
If you need help now or are in immediate danger to yourself or others, call Triple Zero (000) or Lifeline on 13 11 14.