With so many options available it is easy to believe that all counselling services are equal and all do essentially the same thing. Read on to find out how to choose the right support for YOU.
Almost 50% of the population will experience a mental illness at some point in our lives and all of us will go through periods of stress, sadness, grief and conflict, tension, anxiety, depression etc.
We're better able to navigate these periods when we are supported. Accessing the right support, medication or services can be lifesaving.
There are a range of people who can help with mental health issues. But it can be hard to know who is best to turn to, as practitioners vary widely in their training, experience, and expertise.
Some are trained to offer support for psychological issues, like grief , stress and burnout , PTSD, others specialise in more serious mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. And many are untrained and unaccredited, yet still try to sell you their "quick fix" magical solutions.
So where do you begin when you're looking for a mental health professional in order to get the very best support during your time of need?
If you're feeling stressed, anxious, depressed, or having difficulty coping, your GP can be a good first port of call. Depending on your situation they may refer you to a psychologist, psychiatrist, mental health social worker, mental health nurse or OT, counsellor, or other mental health practitioner. They may also put you on a GP Mental Health Treatment Plan, which gives you access to subsidised care.
If you are researching for yourself, look for QUALIFIED and ACCREDITED practitioners who have the backing of a professional association or organisation such as APHRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency), AASW (Australian Association of Social Workers) , APS (Australian Psychology Society) or ACA (Australian Counselling Association) that way you can be assured the clinician is under strict guidelines in terms of Continued Professional Development and Supervision and is covered by that associations code of ethics and guidelines and that they are suitably trained for what they do.
What's their training?
Because in Australia, there is no mandated minimum training or qualification framework for 'counsellors', it is up to the individual seeking help to be discerning in who they choose help and support for their particular issues.
For counsellors, the ACA and PACFA (The Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia) have a national voluntary register of counsellors who meet minimum training and ethical standards, which is the same for the previously mentioned associations and agencies.
For Mental Health Social Workers, Psychologists, and Mental Health Nurses and OT's minimum University Degrees, extensive supervised placements and experience in the field is required before they can operate in their field, and ongoing minimum CPD (continued Professional Development and Supervision) is required annually in order to maintain accreditation with the organisations. Always look for accreditations when selecting counselling support.
If you've been diagnosed with a mental health issue, you're entitled to subsidised mental health care through the Better Access to Mental Health Care scheme.
Under the scheme, Medicare rebates are available for up to 10 individual and 10 group sessions per calendar year with a psychologist, occupational therapist or social worker. During Covid and now ongoing, this has been increased to a further 10 sessions per calandar year and also covers telehealth.
To be eligible, you must visit your GP who will assess whether a GP Mental Health Treatment Plan is appropriate, or refer you to a psychiatrist who may prepare a psychiatrist assessment and management plan. Psychiatrists and paediatricians are also able to directly refer patients for Medicare rebate-able mental health services.
Remember - help is out there.
If you or someone you know needs more urgent help, call:
Lifeline on 13 11 14
Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
or email/phone to book with us 0447 529 457 email : firstname.lastname@example.org