So, you’ve taken the steps in Part 1 and now you’ve got yourself a mental health care plan. We’re proud of you! Here’s what will happen next.
I have a mental health care plan... Now what?
You’ll come away from your GP appointment with a mental health care plan. It sounds like a very serious document, but it’s just the next step in getting the support you’re after. In a nutshell, it spells out what you and your doctor have agreed is your goal in seeking support, and the type of care that will meet your needs. It might also include a referral to a professional in your local area that your doc recommends.
The really cool thing about this piece of paper is that it gets you ten sessions covered by Medicare, so the appointments will be cheaper than if you didn’t have the plan. You’ll still be out of pocket, but Medicare will cover the bulk of it. You won’t get all ten sessions in one block. After six sessions, you’ll head back to the GP to check on how you’re feeling about it all. You’ll then get the okay for the remaining four sessions.
How can I find a psychologist, counsellor or therapist?
You’re now ready to find someone qualified to help you out. Your doctor may have given you the name of someone nearby, but if you want to do a bit of your own research you should head to BeyondBlue and try out their service finder tool.
Here are some tips for finding a psychologist who might suit you:
- Ask your friends and family. If you’re comfortable telling them about your plans, they might recommend someone they’ve seen who they found really awesome.
- Window shop. Tools like the BeyondBlue service finder are great for getting a feel for a person before you meet them. Look at their photo and read a bit about their philosophy.
- Call them. If you think you’ve picked someone, give their office a call and have a chat to them or their staff and see how they make you feel.
- Check their speciality. A lot of psychologists and therapists will have an area of expertise. Try finding one whose special area matches up with your main concerns.
If you’re a bit confused about all the different types of professionals you could see, check out BeyondBlue’s handy fact sheets on each.
How do I prep for my first session?
The psychologist is there to guide you through the process and to make sure you know what’s going down every step of the way. Try writing down any questions you have so you don’t forget them, and feel free to take notes while you’re there so you can review them later.
The most important thing to remember is that you might not like the first person you meet – and that’s totally fine! Pay attention to how you feel in their office and when you’re chatting to them. If the first person doesn’t work out, don’t lose hope – you wouldn’t stop cutting your hair if you had one bad experience with a hairdresser, so don’t give up on this either. You can change therapists as often as you need to, so feel free to keep moving until you find the person who’s right for you.
Once you’ve found a professional who ‘gets’ you, you can schedule regular appointments in advance. This will help you to manage your schedule so that you have time available to keep up the good work. Remember, there’s probably not a quick fix for what you’re going through, so you’ll probably have to commit to working on your mental wellbeing for a little while. Feeling your best is the most important thing, so stick with it - you will be rewarded!