Patients talk to their doctor about mental health more than any other health issue according to previous RACGP ‘Health of the Nation’ GP surveys.
Such exposure to the front line of mental health has doctors well placed to discuss your mental health needs or that of a loved one. A consultation with your doctor can cover your symptoms and how you feel, along with any concerns you may have and the effect those feelings are having on your life.
Your doctor may assess you for a mental health plan that documents your health care needs, goals, treatment and referrals. Alternatively they may suggest self-guided care through the many resources that are available online.
Contributing factors to poor mental health
A wide range of causes can contribute to a period of poor mental health. For many people there is a combination of factors, with some of the following having a deeper effect than others:
- the loss of someone close
- social isolation or loneliness
- alcohol and drug misuse
- caring for someone long-term
- domestic violence, workplace bullying
- severe or long-term stress
- abuse, trauma, or neglect from early in life
- the experience of discrimination and stigma
- social disadvantage, debt or poverty
- unemployment and job loss
- homelessness or poor housing
- suffering a long-term physical health condition
- personality traits such as low self-esteem or perfectionism
- physical causes such as a neurological condition that impacts behaviour and mood
- trauma such as violent crime, a life-threatening situation or affects of military combat
- genetic factors such as a close family member with a mental illness
Seeking help with mental health
Your GP is a logical place to start when you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health issue. That’s because trust with your doctor has been built over time.
Also the confidential environment of a consultation can be more comfortable to discuss your mental health and your doctor can take into account their understanding of your complete medical background.
Being able to make a holistic assessment means your doctor can offer appropriate treatment or refer you to a specific mental health service.
GPs have a broad perspective on what local mental health services are available and can help select someone best suited to your needs be that a counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist.
You may wish to bring a close friend or family member along to the consultation for support during and after the appointment.
Supporting the mental health of others
The sooner someone with a mental illness receives treatment the better the outcome is likely to be.
Encouraging someone to see a doctor for a mental health assessment may be refused. In that case an appointment with a GP can be made by the person concerned so as to discuss what options are available for assistance.
Plenty of support and treatment options are available which can be discussed with the doctor.
Utilising this support is essential for the long term wellbeing of both the person concerned and the person needing mental health assistance. Ensuring that the support provided is within your limitations can also be discussed with your doctor.
A great resource for those wishing to initiate support of others is the ‘R U OK?’ website. It provides a simple guide to starting a conversation with ‘R U OK?’ which is followed by the steps ‘Listen’, ‘Encourage Action’ and ‘Check-in’.
Resources regarding mental health
These are just a few national mental health organisations that offer free resources and support:
Information, support and practical resources including information about depression and anxiety.
– 1800 512 348
Lifeline Australia :
Crisis support for people for those having difficulty coping or staying safe.
– 13 11 14
Veterans Support Service :
Support for ex-serving and current Australian Defence Force personnel and their families.
– 1800 011 046
Suicide Call Back Service :
Provides professional telephone and online counselling.
– 1300 659 467
Support for the mental health of new parents and those expecting.
– 1300 726 306
MensLine Australia :
Phone and online counselling service for men with relationship and emotional health concerns.
– 1300 78 99 78
Kids Helpline :
Phone and online counselling service for those aged 5 to 25.
– 1800 55 1800
The Queensland Mental Health Commission has even more resources for specific mental health queries.
Your doctor will be happy to discuss your wellbeing further and assist with any mental health management and treatment options that may apply. Please make an appointment with our friendly reception staff.