Finding the right mental health professional for your needs is an important step to help you on your way to recovery, and it’s just as important as having the right doctor for your medical needs.
While it may feel like a big step to acknowledge that you need help, connecting with support services early is important so that you get the care and treatment you need to achieve your recovery goals.
This guide outlines the steps and processes for finding and accessing mental health professionals.
If you are worried about your mental health, talk to your GP (family doctor) as your first step. Your doctor can advise you on the best course of action, provide referrals to accredited mental health professionals, prepare a Mental Health Treatment Plan (for Medicare), prescribe medication (and monitor any side effects) and follow up with ongoing care.
What type of mental health professionals are available?
- A psychologist can diagnose mental illness, provide psychological treatments (such as cognitive behavioural therapy) and test for intellectual and psychological function.
- Mental Health Social Workers generally work in private practices, hospitals or community centres and can help with psychological, social and other environmental issues.
- A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has specialised in mental health, and who can diagnose mental illness, prescribe medications and psychological treatment. A psychiatrist can help with both physical and mental health and admit people to hospital if necessary.
How do I find a mental health professional?
- Your GP can determine your eligibility for a Medicare rebate for up to 10 sessions with a psychiatrist, psychologist or mental health social worker. Your GP can also help you prepare your Mental Health Treatment Plan and refer you to a recommended professional according to your needs.
- Mental health professionals also operate in private practices and you don’t need a referral from a GP to visit these professionals. However, if you don’t have a GP referral alongside your Mental Health Treatment Plan you won’t be eligible for a Medicare rebate. If you have private health insurance, you can check with your health fund to see if you’re eligible for a rebate if you choose a private practice mental health professional for your treatment.
- Government or community organisations also offer programs or mental health services for free or for a small fee. Examples of these organisations include Relationships Australia, Beyond Blue, Mission Australia and Partners in Recovery. Your GP can advise you on what programs are available in your area.
If you have questions or would like further information about how to access support for mental health issues, please contact the Suncare Customer Service Team on 1800 786 227. Our friendly team can point you in the right direction for further support and resources.
Information provided by Mindstar
If you or someone you know is in a crisis and requires immediate support, call emergency services on 000.
- Beyond Blue Call 1300 224 636 24 hours / 7 days a week to talk with a trained mental health professional.
- Lifeline 13 11 14 - A 24-hour, nationwide service that provides telephone and online counselling.
- Partners in Recovery (PIR) is a free service that supports people with severe and complex mental health concerns to figure out where they want to go and how to get there. If you are referring a client or family member, ensure you have their consent before referring them.
- PIR Wide Bay
- PIR Sunshine Coast
- PIR Central Queensland
- Mind health connect provides mental health and wellbeing information, support and services in Australia