04.How to get treatment and other contacts
Most people first see their GP, who can prescribe the appropriate medication and may also be trained in psychotherapy. Your GP can also refer you to a psychologist; visits attract a Medicare rebate for the first 12 sessions in a calendar year, making it reasonably affordable.
If treatment doesn’t progress well, or if the depression seems particularly severe, many GPs will refer patients to a psychiatrist – a medical specialist who treats mental illness. This attracts a Medicare rebate, but not a rebate from private health funds. Both psychiatrists and psychologists can charge more than the Medicare fee if they choose – sometimes considerably more – so ask how much the gap payment will be when booking an appointment.
There are free psychiatric and psychological services available through community mental health centres, and referrals are not necessary. They offer appointments with psychiatrists (or sometimes doctors training to be psychiatrists) or psychologists, following an initial assessment. Contact your local or state mental health service; your local hospital or GP can also direct you to your nearest community mental health service.
Black Dog Institute: www.blackdoginstitute.org.au
Beyond Blue: www.beyondblue.org.au
Blue Pages: www.bluepages.anu.edu.au
Help and advice
ACT: Mental Health Triage Service, 1800 629 354
NSW: www.health.nsw.gov.au/mhdao/contact_service.asp, (02) 9391 9000
Qld: www.health.qld.gov.au/mentalhealth/docs/mhservices_directory.pdf, (07) 3328 9506
Tas: Mental Health Services Helpline, 1800 332 388
NT: Department of Health and Families Mental Health Unit, (08) 8999 2553
SA: www.adelaide.edu.au/library/guide/med/menthealth/mentadd.html, 1800 643 854
Vic: Mental Health Advice Line, 1300 280 737
WA: www.health.wa.gov.au/services/category.cfm?Topic_ID=5, (08) 9222 4222