Mental Health Support - Know Your Options

Finding Support

First things first, what is mental health support?

Mental health support services are specialised services to help you with mental health problems. Mental health problems can take many shapes and sizes and everyone will have different support needs, depending on what they're going through. 

What are the different types of support and when should I use them? 

Knowing which type of mental health support service to use can be tricky. You might be looking something for yourself or want to help a friend. We'll break down the main types of support in the Australian mental health system to help you understand your options. 

Support Options 

Counsellors 
  • Counsellors are experts in listening and helping people achieve their personal goals. 
  • They usually focus on the issues that matter most to you (a person-centred approach) and deal with practical issues, such as processing emotions for grief and anger. 
  • They will begin the session by identifying problems and discussing what your goals are. 
  • Counselling is typically short-term and recommended for people with milder mental health symptoms or personal life problems. 
  • You can find a counsellor through Psychology Today search tool.
Psychologists 
  • Registered psychologists in Australia undergo a minimum of four years of university study and two years of supervised training. 
  • They specialise in the diagnosis and assessment of mental health disorders. They can also deliver evidence-based treatment, like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). 
  • Psychologists are recommended for people with mild to moderate mental health symptoms. 
  • You can find a psychologist through the APS directory.
Clinical Psychologists 
  • Clinical Psychologists undergo six years of university studies, including post-graduate studies (Masters program), and two more years of supervised training. 
  • They have training in prevention, diagnosis, assessment and treatment of mental health disorders. 
  • In addition to professional practice, clinical psychologists may be involved in research, teaching, supervision and public policy. 
  • Clinical psychologists have particular skills to solve complex problems requiring individually-tailored treatment. 
  • Clinical psychologists are recommended for people with moderate - severe/complex mental health issues. 
  • You can find a psychologist through the APS directory. 
Psychiatrists 
  • Psychiatrists are medical doctors who have specialised training in mental health. All psychiatrists have a medical degree and extensive specialised training. 
  • Unlike psychologists, psychiatrists can prescribe medications, such as anti-depressants. 
  • They can diagnose, treat and prevent mental, emotional and behavioural disorders. 
  • Psychiatrists are recommended for people with severe mental health conditions.
  • You can find a psychiatrist here.
Social Workers 
  • Social workers are allied health professionals that help people in crisis and provide support. They usually have a university degree in social work.
  • Social workers have lots of different roles including:
  • providing counselling and support
  • providing information, emergency accommodation, financial support, and health or legal services
  • coordinating different support services, including psychologists.
  • Depending on your circumstances, a social worker may be provided for you. You can also find a social worker online through this search tool
Community Health Care Centres
  • Community health care centres (CHCs) are local centres that provide support for many different issues. All the services provided by CHCs are free and they are normally targeted at low-income groups. 
  • There are some specialised CHCs for young people and if you're feeling lost and need to talk to someone in your community, CHCs are a really good place to go. 
  • In addition to mental health support, CHC also offer food, clothing, health services and accomodation support. 
  • You can find a local CHC here. 

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