“My reaction to getting a diagnosis was extreme relief – now I understood.”
If you are concerned about your mental health, or just want to improve your wellbeing, there are lots of things you can do right now. Finding useful information, chatting online with peers and professionals, and downloading apps are a few initial steps you can take. Everyone's situation and needs are different, so what is useful right now will vary from one person to the next.
Digital mental health resources can often be just as effective as talking to someone face-to-face. So if you're not comfortable talking to someone in person, that may be the way to go. Whatever you choose, trust is a very important factor.
There is plenty of information available to help you get started; we have some resources further down this page. We also have information on seeking support, and a page where you can find digital services and resources.
Taking action for change
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Ensuring a healthy lifestyle is one of the most protective things you can do for both your physical and mental health. Eating nutritious foods, having regular physical activity or exercise, getting enough sleep, and being able to relax your mind and body are the keys – and these are things you can start doing now. For ideas and inspiration, check out the meaningful life section on this website.
Get the relevant information
There’s lots of information available online. However, it can be difficult to know where to start, and which resources are accurate and useful. We have key information on a range of topics that you can find at the top of this page. All our pages also direct you to relevant online resources that have been checked for accuracy and are evidence-based. If you are not sure what you are looking for, Sam the chatbot can offer suggestions based on your needs.
Connect with people
There are lots of ways to connect – from dropping in on friends and family to chatting on the telephone or online. You can also connect with people who are experiencing similar situations to you through online peer support forums. What’s important is that you talk to someone you can trust. Sometimes it can be hard to feel connected to people when you’re feeling distressed or confused about what you’re going through. Connecting with other people is a powerful positive force in your life, and something you can do right now. You can find out more about why connecting with people is beneficial in the Connectedness pages on this website.
Get the support you need
If you need help right now, visit our crisis page. Or you can connect online with peers who have lived experience, as well as trained counsellors, through mental health websites. Many of the websites listed on this website have online communities with discussion forums and live chat. If you choose to get professional support, your first stop can be a GP who can either help you, or direct you to someone who can. If you need urgent face-to-face help after hours, visit your nearest hospital.
Take action early
Many people do not get the help they need until a mental health condition is significantly disrupting their lives. If you have concerns about mental health, early treatment can reduce the severity of your symptoms, and can also speed your recovery. There are many things you can do right now, but the most important step is to do something.
A closer look
Australians should be seeking help more than they do
If you have a mental health concern, it is useful to get some help to understand and manage it. Despite the variety of help-seeking options and the benefits it can bring, research shows that less than half of Australians who need mental health support in any year receive it. Some people find it helpful to talk with mental health professionals, connect with peers and friends online or in person, or help yourself with online resources and apps. (Source)
It's natural to be reluctant to seek help
Some of the common reasons include: not thinking a problem is serious enough to act on, not understanding the symptoms and treatments, and concerns about stigma attached to mental illness. Some people may also be concerned about about a particular diagnosis and how it may impact their lives. If you live in rural or remote areas, you may need to travel a long way or have to wait to get services. If you are from another country, you may worry about whether you will be understood. If you like solving problems on your own, you may see help-seeking as a weakness - which it is not. None of these reasons should stop you from seeking help. (Source)
Getting help early can help your recovery
People can often delay seeking help for various reasons. This can make problems worse and can make it harder to find a treatment that works. As your distress around an untreated mental health concern becomes greater, you may be less likely to seek help, believing that no one can help. However, for most mental health issues, early treatment can help your recovery. (Source)
GPs are often the first stop for people seeking help
General Practitioners (GPs) are trained to help with mental health concerns and deliver a large part of the professional support for mental health in Australia. A GP may be able to help you with specific issues, or may refer you to specialised services. Recent data shows that around 13% of GP’s appointments are related to mental health. It is important to have a GP you feel comfortable with, and if you are not happy with a GP, it is okay to change. You can use the National Health Services Directory to find a GP near you. (Source)
Many people use telephone helplines
Talking on the phone to a mental health professional or a trained volunteer can be a useful and popular path to getting help and support. In 2016, Lifeline received over 900,000 calls, Kids Helpline had over 300,000 calls, chats and emails, and the Suicide Call Back Service responded to nearly 15,000 calls. Often this can be a less confronting place to start talking about your concerns and might help you feel more comfortable to seek other supports if needed. (Source 1) (Source 2) (Source 3)
You might find online and phone-based mental health resources helpful. Some suggestions are below. You can find more with our Search tool (opens in a new tab).