Let's Get Serious

Getting a Mental Health Care Plan

TW: mentions of mental health issues/self-harm/suicide

Serious cap, donned.

I know well how scary it is to reach out for help and I know very well how scary it is to fight demons on your own. It’s exhausting, painful and sickening. Here’s some help to manage your feelings and what to expect when you reach out to get a mental health plan done.

This is based on what I’ve experienced in Victoria, Australia, btw. I’ll try to explore information for other states and countries down the line.

I personally visited what felt like a hundred general practitioners (GP) until I found one who made me feel heard, validated and supported. Shout out to Jane, plsss come back to Melbs. This changed the game for me; I felt very comfortable opening up about any physical or mental health concern I had. If you can shop around for a GP who makes you feel this way, I highly recommend it if you’re particularly nervous about discussing your mental health.

You will probably need to book a double appointment as mental health care plans often take more time than a standard consult will allow. You can check this with reception or with your GP themselves when you book.

Your GP will ask you why you’re there, if they don’t already know, and you can simply say you’re feeling some distress/having some mental health concerns/issues and you’d like to discuss a mental health care plan so you can begin having sessions with a psychologist. A GP should not turn you away; it isn’t really their job to do this as they don’t have time to conduct a full assessment of your mental health. Instead, a psychologist will soon figure out the extent of help you need once sessions begin.

Sometimes you’ll be asked to do a K10 test. This is a measurement of depression and anxiety symptoms indicating recent distress (the past 4 weeks). If you aren’t sure about the past 4 weeks due to your symptoms causing a lack of focus or because time feels blended together, I personally just answer the questions for as recently as I can remember/overall. If you’re suffering from mental health issues, it’s likely that the distress is relatively stable. Also, if you aren’t sure, don’t be scared to say it’s worse than it might actually be, as you can always change your mind/explain yourself when you see a psychologist.

Your GP should also ask general questions about your health and lifestyle, including whether you take any medications, past history of mental health issues, family history of mental health issues, language spoken, how much alcohol you drink, how often you smoke, etc. The mental health care plan should also include a mental status examination where the GP quickly indicates the state of your appearance, thinking patterns, attention levels, mood, appetite, etc. You will be asked to give a key support contact, like a next of kin. If you are uncomfortable with your family knowing about your mental health (I didn’t tell my family for years, highly recommend if it will make you more comfortable), then you are most welcome to use a friend. They will only ask for a name and number. Lastly, they should ask if you have any specific goals (eg. “work on attachment issues”, “build my self-worth”).

Please be prepared that they should ask about whether or not you have any suicidal ideations (thoughts) or intentions (plans). A lot of people are very scared to answer this honestly. That’s okay. If you are having thoughts or making plans, it would be entirely beneficial to open up to your GP just so that they can flag this information with your psychologist and it can be attended to in order to help you sooner. However, if you are not comfortable, you can always raise this with your psychologist at any later date. I expressed ideations to my GP and psychologist and this was not met with any resistance, just support.

Your GP should ask you to read over the plan and sign it. They will also ask if you already know who you’d like to have sessions with and can fax your plan to them. Otherwise, you can ask for recommendations. My lovely GP provided me with about 8 pages of psychology clinics for me to choose from. Bless her.

Your mental health care plan should enable you to 10 Medicare-rebated sessions with a psychologist; after your sixth appointment, you will need a review from your GP to access four more. Also, due to COVID-19, for a time, people can access 20 sessions in a year instead of 10.

Lastly, whilst most people choose to see a psychologist, a mental health care plan should also allow access to certain occupational therapists and social workers.

If your goal is to attain medication, there is an entirely different process that should include your GP alone or with a psychiatrist. I will discuss this in a separate post in the future.

I felt an insane amount of relief once I had my mental health care plan completed, and I know heaps of friends who felt the same. The feeling of knowing you don’t have to deal with everything on your own anymore is unmatched. It feels like you can breathe again.

If you have any further questions or need immediate support, please follow the references or visit the Help! page and contact a helpline, and reach out to any family or friends if you can. My inbox is also always open for general messages, but I am not qualified to give personal advice or direction related to any person’s mental health and wellbeing.

Alllllllll my love and keep your head up.

<3  Sep 2021


LAF Help! page  K10 checklist at BeyondBlue   Mental health treatment plan at Health Direct

© Lonely as F*ck

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