GPs are the best starting point for someone seeking professional help. A good GP can:
- make a diagnosis
- check for any physical health problem or medication that may be contributing to the problem, or may affect your treatment
- provide information and discuss available treatments, taking your preferences into account
- work with you to draw up a Mental Health Treatment Plan so you can get a Medicare rebate for psychological treatment
- provide support, brief counselling or, in some cases, more specialised talking therapy
- prescribe medication
- refer you to a mental health specialist such as a psychologist or psychiatrist
- provide information and support to family members, if you agree
- schedule regular appointments to check how you are going.
Before consulting a GP about mental health, it's important to ask the receptionist to book a longer or double appointment, so there is plenty of time to discuss the situation without feeling rushed. If you have not been able to make a longer appointment, it's a good idea to raise the issue of mental health early in the consultation so there is plenty of time to discuss it.
It is recommended that people consult their regular GP or another GP in the same clinic, as medical information is shared within a practice. While some GPs may be more confident at dealing with mental health than others, the majority of GPs will be able to assist or at least refer you to someone who can, so they are the best place to start.
(Adapted from http://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/who-can-assist)