What to do after a diagnosis
After receiving a diagnosis of a mental illness or mental disorder, it’s normal to go through a range of emotions. You may feel scared, angry, sad, overwhelmed, or even ashamed. On the other hand, it can also be a relief, finally having a label to help describe how you’ve been feeling and thinking.
Having a diagnosis can be one of the first steps towards working out your treatment options and starting to feel better. It can help you to:
- look into your condition
- connect with other people who have experienced a similar thing
- access certain services or funding for services through school, work, or private health insurance
- find information on treatments and supports that can assist.
It can also help healthcare professionals develop and discuss a suitable treatment plan with you.
A diagnosis does not define you as a person
You don’t need to use the diagnosis label or share it with other people if you don’t want to. A diagnosis is just a way of describing the types of symptoms and experiences you have been having.
How to deal with a diagnosis
While it can be overwhelming, having a diagnosis can be one of the first steps towards starting to feel better.
Have you or someone you know been diagnosed with a condition?
We have information on finding help, looking after yourself, caring for someone else living with a mental health disorder, and services that can support you or the person you're caring for.
What you can do to support yourself
There are steps you can take after a diagnosis to come to terms with the information, make decisions that are right for you, and support your wellbeing journey.
Remember that you are not alone—there are others who have had a similar experience and can support you. There are treatments and supports that have helped others that can help you, too.
You can play an active role in managing your symptoms. There are many healthcare professionals, support groups, and resources that can help you. You’re in the driver’s seat.
If you’re working with a healthcare professional, you’ve taken a positive step. Many people who get help and follow a treatment plan see an improvement in their wellbeing.
Search for resources and support services most suitable for you.
Learning about your diagnosis can be empowering. It can help you to understand more about yourself and what you’re going through. It can also help prepare you to work with services and healthcare professionals to get the support you need.
When you feel ready to do so, research your diagnosis. Find out more about the signs and symptoms people commonly experience and the treatments and support services that can help. There are websites, support groups, and chat lines to help you get informed.
You can find information on this website about:
After you’ve received a diagnosis, building a support team is an important part of your journey. It’s okay to ask for help. Start by talking to family, friends, and other people you trust. Getting emotional support is an important first step.
There are other important factors to consider when building a support team:
- Connect with people who know what you are going through.
They may have been through something similar. Some may have experience in providing help, such as peer support workers. They can listen, help you work through setbacks, and share advice based on their experiences. The Head to Health quiz can help you find the right support groups.
- Find healthcare professionals and services that are a good fit for you.
It can be very helpful to find a regular GP or practice if you don’t already have one. Getting to know you over time helps them to provide better support and health care for you. You can also ask them for recommendations or referrals to other healthcare professionals.
- Bring someone you trust to appointments, if you’re both comfortable.
They might be your partner, your parent, or a close friend or relative. They could provide emotional support, pass on information, ask questions, and take notes. They can also get advice on how best to support you.
- Give consent to someone you trust to be an active support partner in your healthcare team.
You can also involve more than one person as each might support you in different ways. Involving yourself, a support person, and a healthcare professional in your care is sometimes known as a ‘triangle of care’.
There are many different types of services and supports available, and it’s important to find what works for you. Knowing what they are and the ways you can access them can help you make an informed decision on your next steps.
It can take some time to build trust and feel comfortable sharing with your healthcare team.
Healthcare professionals may ask a range of questions about your life, habits, work, relationships, and upbringing. They may ask about past accidents or traumas, or events that you’re finding stressful now. You may find it confronting or even feel it's irrelevant, but the information you provide will help.
It's in your best interest to be open and honest. Share how you’re feeling, ask questions about your diagnosis and treatment path, and let them know your progress. If you’re having any problems or concerns, don’t be afraid to say so. It helps them figure out what might be contributing to your current challenges. It also helps them tailor support and treatment options for you.
Healthcare professionals aren’t there to judge you. Most of them have heard a variety of stories from people they’ve worked with.
If things really aren’t working well for you, you can ask for a referral to another service or healthcare professional.