Support from health professionals

There are a range of health professionals available to support you while you recover from anxiety and depression. 

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General Practitioners (GPs)

A good starting point when you need support is your local doctor. They can talk with you about what is happening in your life and your options for treatment and further support. 

A good GP can:

  • make a diagnosis
  • check for any physical health problem or medication that may be contributing to the depression or anxiety
  • discuss available treatments
  • work with the person to draw up a Mental Health Treatment Plan so they can get a Medicare rebate for psychological treatment. For information about costs, visit the What will it cost? webpage
  • provide brief counselling or, in some cases, talking therapy
  • prescribe medication
  • refer a person to a mental health specialist such as a psychologist or psychiatrist.

If you don't have a regular GP or clinic, there is a list of GPs with expertise in treating common mental health problems available here or you can contact the beyondblue Support Service by calling 1300 22 4636.

Psychologist

Psychologists are health professionals who provide psychological therapies. Clinical psychologists specialise in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions. Psychologists and clinical psychologists are not doctors and cannot prescribe medication in Australia.

It is not necessary to have a referral from a GP or psychiatrist to see a psychologist. However, a Mental Health Treatment Plan from a GP can be used to claim financial discounts (rebates) through Medicare. If you have private health insurance and extras cover, you may be able to claim part of a psychologist's fee. Contact your health fund to check.

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Psychiatrists

Psychiatrists are doctors who have undergone further training to specialise in mental health. They can make medical and psychiatric assessments, conduct medical tests, provide therapy and prescribe medication. Psychiatrists often use psychological treatments such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT) and/or medication. If the mental health condition is severe and hospital admission is required, a psychiatrist will be in charge of the person's treatment.

A referral from a GP is needed to see a psychiatrist. Rebates can also be claimed through Medicare.

Mental health nurse practitioners

Mental health nurse practitioners are specially trained to support people with mental health conditions. They work with psychiatrists and GPs to review the state of a person's mental health and monitor their medication. They also provide people with information about mental health conditions and treatment. Some have training in psychological therapies. For a referral to a mental health nurse practitioner who works in a general practice, ask your GP.

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