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Navigating mental health services

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If you need to access mental health information, services or support, it’s helpful to know what’s out there, so you can make an informed choice. There are many types of support, and they can be accessed in different ways.

Choosing effective care for you

The mental health services you choose will depend on your situation and how you’re feeling:

  • You may feel you can manage your own health by reading and talking to others online to get advice. Or you may decide to work through a self-paced online treatment program.
  • You may feel you need more active support and want to undertake an online program with a coach or clinician via text, email, webchat or phone calls.
  • You may want to get an assessment through a GP or another health professional. This could be via telehealth or face-to-face depending on the health service.
  • You may decide you need immediate support, which often starts by calling a helpline.

Whatever your situation, it’s important to reach out for help. The service you access first can help you work out your options, so you can choose the best pathway for where you’re at.

For some people, digital resources may suit their situation best. Some may prefer face-to-face support from mental health professionals. Others might seek a blend of these.

You will also need to consider the fees you may need to pay to access health professionals or health services. Many can be accessed for free or at a low cost, and it is helpful to know your options.

Learn more about costs for different services.

Types of digital resources

There are a wide range of online websites, chat groups and apps out there, each with its own purpose. They’re especially useful to find information and learn skills to manage your own health. You can also use them as part of a health professional’s treatment plan to support your progress between consultations.

Head to Health brings together trusted resources and services from across Australia.

These may be:

  • information, factsheets, and guides on social, emotional, and mental health and wellbeing topics
  • online quizzes and assessments to check how you’re going
  • self-help or clinician-guided programs and courses
  • mental wellbeing apps for your computer or mobile.

These can be helpful for finding more information and starting to take action to improve your wellbeing. There are now quite a few online treatment programs that are effective in reducing symptoms and aiding recovery, which are often anonymous and free to access. Many are also used or recommended by health professionals along with face-to-face care.

Dedicated mental health forums and lived experience groups can be a good way to meet and chat with people who have similar experiences.

Calling a helpline or arranging a phone call with a health professional can be valuable when you need more personalised support. If you’re nervous about talking to someone on the phone or through video, webchat might be a more comfortable first step for you.

Types of face-to-face services

Many different types of health professional may be involved in your treatment. This can range from your first appointment with a GP to working with a specialist, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. It’s valuable to know what roles they all play, and how to access them.

Learn more about the types of health professionals.

The types of service you access will differ depending on the provider and the area they operate in.

Learn more about the types of service providers.


Getting extra support

It’s not uncommon to need a bit of extra help when finding your way through the health system. A key thing to remember is that you don't have to do it alone.

Speak to your health providers whenever you need help understanding your options and they can help you take it step by step. They are there to answer all your questions, so be sure to get all the information you need.

Having a friend, family member, or someone you trust attend appointments can also help to make sense of all the information.

If you feel uncomfortable with the treatment you are receiving, or your goals are not being met, you can ask your provider about getting an advocate. An advocate’s role is to ensure you have the information you need to make decisions for yourself. They can also help you to understand your rights and represent you as part of health services. Their job is to make sure your opinions and wishes are heard by the professional.

Learn more about your healthcare rights.