So you’re feeling a bit unsure about things, you go to your GP and they suggest going on a Mental Health Plan. It all sounds good, what what does this actually mean & how will it impact you?
Firstly, the GP will ask you a lot of questions, they’ll ask about your previous medical history, your family’s medical history, what medications you’re on. If they haven’t already determined your current issues, they’ll ask questions relating to depression, stress, anxiety, whether you suffer with other mental health problems or whether you’re feeling suicidal. They’ll take a lot of notes, sometimes they’ll print them off and give you your Mental Health Plan and sometimes they’ll email it directly to your psychologist.
With your Mental Health Plan, you’re entitled to 10 psychologist/occupational therapist sessions that you can get a rebate on with Medicare. Your GP can either give you a referral and recommend someone for you to see, or you are welcome to choose your own. After your first 6 sessions, you’ll need to go back to your GP for a referral for your next lot of sessions.
When you go to your psychologist, you’ll likely spend your first session doing what is called the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS). You’ll answer over 40 questions relating to your last week. These questions will ask how often you felt sweaty, if you found it hard to get out of bed, if you were unable to calm down and whether you are easily startled. This will determine what areas you may need extra support with. You’ll repeat this around your 6th session again and it will show how you are in comparison before you started your sessions. It’s really interesting to see how you’re progressing.
The whole process can be hard, especially if you’re struggling with anxiety, but everyone you meet along the way knows that you’re probably feeling that way because it’s a new journey and they’re trained to notice the symptoms and assist you with them. Keep that in mind.
The rest is up to you. We’ll write again soon about going to therapy and what happens in sessions etc. Feel free to ask any questions you have and we’ll do our best to cover them!