Seeing a GP is a good place to start when you’re looking for help and advice regarding your mental health. They’re trained to help with mental and physical health and can make referrals and prescribe medications.
If you don’t have a regular doctor, you can ask a local practice for a GP who is experienced in mental health, contact your local RAMHP Coordinator or visit National Health Services Directory for GPs near you.
It can be tricky if you’re in a small town and there aren’t many doctors, but it’s important to remember they can’t share your info without you saying so.
Ask for a long appointment to make sure you don’t feel rushed and have time to ask questions and talk through your options.
Think about what you want to mention to the doctor. It can help to write a few things down and take them along with you. This could include:
• Any stressful events or things you’ve been worried about.
• Changes in your sleep, appetite, mood, social life, motivation and anything else that has changed.
• How these changes are impacting on you; are they affecting your work or personal life, and for how long?
• Your medical history; what have you seen doctors about in the past? Are you taking any medications, supplements or using natural therapies?
Think about questions you’d like to ask the doctor. Maybe you’re wondering:
• Why do I feel like this?
• What are my options for treatment?
• What can I do to feel better?
• Are there any websites or useful apps I can look at?
It’s okay to take a friend or family member with you for support. They might help you feel more comfortable, remember questions you want to ask or things you’d like to tell the doctor.
Talking about your mental health for the first time can be tough, but try be honest with your doctor. They need as much info as possible to give you the right advice for your situation.
Your doctor might write a mental health plan which will include a likely diagnosis and a plan for treatment and follow-up. This might happen in the first visit, or it may take a few appointments to get there. They might suggest seeing a psychologist or other mental health professional, taking medication or other things you can do to improve your wellbeing, like keeping active.
If the GP recommends seeing a psychologist in your Mental Health Plan, you will be able to access up to 10 government subsidised sessions each year. Some professionals do charge an additional fee so there might be a gap payment required.
You should be a part of all of these decisions, so ask questions and get a second opinion if you don’t feel comfortable. Your doctor is there to assist you in managing your mental health and getting back on track.
What did you and your doctor talk about? Put it in to action; fill your script, use the mindfulness app or make that appointment with the psychologist.
Book another appointment with your GP for a few weeks down the track so that you can catch up about how you’re going, ask more questions or make changes to your Mental Health Plan.
Is there anything you want to mention to your doctor at your next appointment? Write it down so you don’t forget.
Remember, GPs see people about mental health concerns all the time. These concerns are common and treatable. If you don’t feel comfortable and supported, then ask questions, go back and discuss what is worrying you or talk to another doctor for a second opinion.
The earlier you notice a problem and get some assistance, the better chance you have of a quick recovery, and you reduce your risk of mental health concerns in the future.