Mental health is our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. It influences how we feel, think and act. You can be mentally healthy, just like you can be physically healthy. Being mentally healthy looks like fulfilling your full potential, being able to cope with stressful situations, working productively, connecting and contributing to your community.
Mental health disorders are mental health conditions that affect how you feel, act and behave. These disorders can start when you have poor mental health. Mental health disorders can be diagnosed by a psychologist or psychiatrist.
• Counsellor: someone you can talk to about problems you are having. They often use talk therapy and can help support you with everyday problems. They cannot assess or diagnose mental disorders. Find one at: https://www.arcapregister.com.au/
• Psychologist: a trained health care professional that can assess, diagnose and treat mental health disorders. The cost of seeing a psychologist depends on the psychologist or clinic, however most psychologists should accept a Mental Healthcare Treatment Plan. There are different types: clinical psychologists, general psychologists, community psychologists, health psychologists and counselling psychologists. Different psychologists may try or specialised in different treatment approaches (e.g., cognitive behavioural therapy). Find one at: https://psychology.org.au/find-a-psychologist
• Psychiatrist: a trained medical doctor who has completed specialised training in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental disorders. Psychiatrists are able to prescribe medications, which makes them different to psychologists. As they do different things, you can have both a psychologist and psychiatrist to help support you. Find one here: https://www.ahpra.gov.au/registration/registers-of-practitioners.aspx
A Mental Health Treatment Plan (also sometimes called a ‘mental health care plan’) is a plan for people who struggle with mental health issues or a mental health disorder. A mental health treatment plan is written by a doctor.
The plan normally outlines what type of health care you need and what you and your doctor are aiming to achieve by getting you on the plan. The purpose of a mental health treatment plan is to give you Medicare Rebates for up to 20 individual sessions with a psychologist. This means that you get money back from Medicare when you pay for a psychology appointment.
You can get a plan by following these steps:
1. Make an appointment with your GP or other doctor (try and book a long appointment or special mental health care appointment)
2. During the appointment you’ll need to explain that you want to get on a plan and why (e.g., because you’re feeling X and want to talk to someone about it)
3. Your doctor should be able to refer you to a local psychologist, you’ll have to call the psychologist’s clinic and ask to see the psychologist and explain that you’re on a treatment plan.
They should book you in and tell you how much the appointment will cost you!