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Talking to your doctor (GP) about mental health

3-minute read

Many health professionals provide mental health services. Your doctor (GP) is often a good place to start for most mental health conditions. Doctors can provide treatment or refer you to other services for mental health.

Search for a doctor in your location.

What questions do I ask when choosing a GP?

If you don’t have a regular doctor already, you can find one by:

  • asking family and friends for recommendations
  • speaking to your local pharmacist
  • looking at websites of practices in your area.

You can then call a general practice to ask:

  • how are appointments managed
  • what is their billing policy
  • if the practice is easily accessible in terms of location and opening hours
  • if the practice meets any special needs or preferences you may have, such as language, culture or gender of the doctor.

You might want to ask your doctor:

  • if they have an interest in mental health
  • their qualifications and experience in mental health.

Ask yourself if you feel comfortable talking to your doctor about how you are feeling. A doctor that helps you with mental health should be able to provide support, assessment, ongoing care and referrals to psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health services, if required.

Starting a conversation about mental health with your GP

Tell your doctor:

  • your symptoms or how you feel
  • your concerns
  • how what you feel has affected your life.

You can take a family member or close friend along for support; they can also help explain your situation to the doctor, and they can help remember the discussions you had.

Your own questions

One way to get the most out of your visit is by asking questions. Writing a list of questions before the visit can help. A good starting point is:

  • What are all of my options?
  • What do you think are the best options for me?
  • How much better might I feel?
  • When might I feel better?
  • How much does a doctor visit cost?

It is best to ask upfront how much the visit will cost you. If you aren’t eligible for Medicare, you will pay the full cost. If you are eligible, then Medicare covers some or all of the cost.

Your doctor can also refer you to services by psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists. Medicare rebates are available for up to 10 individual and 10 group therapy sessions for people with a diagnosed mental disorder and a mental health care plan.

Mental health care plan

Your doctor will probably ask you many questions to assess your situation. Your healthcare needs, goals, treatment and referrals will be recorded in your mental health care plan.

Self-guided care

Ask your doctor about online programs and resources that help you to take care of yourself.

Question builder

A tool to help you create a question list for your doctor’s appointment. Go to the Question Builder, prepare your list, then print or email it so you remember what you want to ask.

Not sure what to do next?

If you or someone you know are finding it difficult to manage mental health issues, try healthdirect’s symptom checker and get advice on when to seek professional help.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: October 2017

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