Who can help if you are depressed?
Your general practitioner (GP) is your first port of call for help for depression in most cases. You can search for medical and allied health practitioners in mental health on the beyondblue website. Other health professionals who can help are listed below.
Your GP may be able to help you manage your mental health problem if they have training in this area, or they may refer you to a specialist, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist. You can search for GPs who have done extra training in mental health on the beyondblue website.
Psychologists provide psychological therapies (talking therapies), such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT). They are not doctors, and cannot prescribe medicine in Australia. You can get a referral to a psychologist from your doctor, which may entitle you to Medicare rebates for a number of sessions or enable you to claim from a private health fund. You can also contact a psychologist directly. Some health funds will cover some sessions with a psychologist only if you have already completed the number of sessions that Medicare covers.
The Australian Psychological Society has a searchable list of psychologists, as well as information on fees and rebates.
Psychiatrists are specialist doctors who have done further training in mental health. They provide psychotherapy, such as CBT and IPT, and can prescribe medicine. You need a referral from a GP to see a psychiatrist. Some of the psychiatrist’s fee is covered by Medicare if you see a psychiatrist in their private practice, and all of the fee is covered if you go through the public system (e.g. by seeing a psychiatrist at the outpatients department of a public hospital).
Social workers can help you deal with day-to-day situations that can make mental health problems worse, or with situations made harder when you have a mental health problem. They can help you with strategies for dealing with problems with work, finances, family situations and living arrangements.
The Australian Association of Social Workers has a searchable list of accredited Mental Health Social Workers.
Occupational therapists in mental health
Occupational therapists in mental health can help you if you are having difficulty with everyday activities because of mental illness. They can help you with work and social skills; hobbies and interpersonal relationships; and with financial, time and stress management. Occupational therapists work mainly in the public health system. You can contact one directly, or ask your doctor for a referral. You may be able to get a Medicare rebate for some sessions if they are part of a Mental Health Care Plan drawn up by your GP.
The Occupational Therapy Association has a listing of occupational therapists in mental health.
Mental health nurses
Mental health nurses are nurses who have done further training to care for people with mental health problems. They work with doctors to monitor medication, and they provide information about mental health problems and treatment.
Medicare rebates for allied mental health services
The number of allied mental health services covered by Medicare rebates under a Mental Health Care Plan is 10 sessions per person, per calendar year, in most cases.
Read more about Medicare rebates for allied mental health health services (e.g. psychologists, occupational therapists and social workers) under the National Mental Health Reform – Better Access Initiative.
For more information
- beyondblue fact sheet 4. Types of help available. (accessed April 17th, 2012).