While it’s pretty common to need some help with mental health, knowing how to access the right support for you can be a little tricky. Here are six ways to get help for your mental health so that you can stop feeling crappy.
Your mission is to get help for your mental health so that you can feel better and be happier. The good news is that the fact that you’ve noticed that you could do with some support and are taking steps to help yourself, means you’re way ahead of the game.
But, there can be some further battles along the way - whether it’s the James Bond-like activity of accessing support without people knowing, a minor sword fight with a counsellor that you just don’t vibe with, or just dealing with your own dread of going to a session and having to poke at uncomfortable thoughts.
Not all of the options listed here may work for you, so pick and choose what feels right. Remember: you’re not alone, and seeking help is a sign of strength. Plus, the majority of the stuff we’ve listed here is either completely free or has a really minimal cost.
1. Head to your GP
A great first option on your mission for better mental health is to head to your GP. If stuff in your life is getting on top of you, your GP is one of the best people you can go to for face-to-face support. While GPs are trained to help with mental health issues, they may not think to ask about it, so you may need to bring it up.
Your GP is the gateway to getting a ‘mental health-care plan’, which will get you six free (or Medicare-subsidised) sessions with a psychologist or therapist. Make sure to remind your GP that you don’t have money to spare, and ask them to refer you to a completely subsidised or an extremely low-cost option.
From the age of 15, you can get your own Medicare card. This means you can access your GP without having to use your family’s Medicare card. Depending on your age, the state you live in, and what’s going on for you, your GP may or may not have to tell someone about your issues. (Don’t worry – that mostly happens only if things are super-serious.) There’s more info about age and consent here.
The vast majority of GPs are super-sympathetic and really want to help. But if you just don’t want to talk to them about your issues, or you find them difficult to deal with, you can simply and politely ask them to give you a mental health-care plan and a referral to a psychologist. You’re entitled to access this support and help.
2. Call a helpline
When you’re on a quest to find help for your mental health, you’ve got a good stash of help options in your inventory. Calling a helpline is a great way to get some immediate help – and you don’t even need to leave your bedroom.
All the helplines listed below have trained professionals who will answer your call, listen to you and help you find the support that best meets your needs.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a severe mental health crisis or their behaviour has changed suddenly, get in touch with your local Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team (CATT). If it’s an emergency, call 000.
3. Go online
Some people can easily talk about their feelings, but some of us just can’t, or we don’t want to say this stuff out loud. If you’re able to express yourself better in writing than by talking, then your mission should involve some online mental health support. You can connect with experts and access great mental health support online at eheadspace, Kids Helpline or Lifeline.
4. Head to Headspace
Headspace could be a good option if you feel the need to talk face-to-face with someone, but you can’t or don’t want to see a GP for a referral. Some, but not all, Headspace centres offer a drop-in service. Call them beforehand to check.
You can also schedule an appointment by calling or emailing them. Some centres have long wait times, so be prepared that you may not get an immediate appointment. Remember that your quest for mental health may sometimes call on all your reserves of patience and persistence. Find out more about visiting Headspace here.
5. Get schooled
Help can sometimes come from unexpected places. A really good option for free mental health support is your school or uni counsellor, and you may not have to wait as long as with some other options. And don’t worry: these services are completely confidential. They’re not going to talk about you with your teachers, or your family or friends, without your permission. They can also help you deal with your teachers or lecturers if your mental health is impacting your studies.
6. Connect with ReachOut legends
When you’re feeling the icy winds of tough times blowing over you, remember that you’re not alone. There are stacks of other young people who are also struggling and who use their experiences to connect with, and help, others. We call them legends (aka ReachOut forum members). Regardless of where you are on your journey, you can always find additional support, advice or just some willing listeners on the ReachOut forums.
Your mission to get help for your mental health may not be the easiest one you’ve ever been on, but it could possibly be the most important. When you’re following the steps above, know that you’ll likely need strength, patience and resilience to get through. But remember: you deserve to feel better and be happier.