Mental illness is a significant health challenge for our community, each year affecting approximately one in five Australians. People with mental health disorders include those experiencing depression and other mood disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, psychosis, suicidal thoughts, relationship problems, life crises, adjustment issues, trauma and family conflicts.
Allied health and mental health
Clinical psychologists, registered psychologists and appropriately trained social workers and occupational therapists are allied health professionals with a breadth of experience in assessing, managing and treating people with mental illness. Mental health workers frequently work with GPs and psychiatrists to provide team based mental health care.
Common areas of work
Mental health workers help individuals develop strategies to resolve the presenting psychological and other associated social and environmental problems, leading to improvements in their quality of life. This process may involve family as well as individual counselling, and group therapy. Mental health workers recognise the broader implications of an individual having a mental illness and the impact on friends, family, work and education.
Mental health workers use a range of interventions, including the following focussed psychological strategies; cognitive behavioural therapy, behavioural interventions, cognitive interventions, relaxation strategies, skills training, problem solving, anger management, social skills, stress management, parenting skills, interpersonal therapy, psycho-education (including motivational interviewing) and narrative therapy.
Accessing allied health mental health services
A wide range of state and federal government initiatives have been developed to assist with the cost and accessibility of mental health services. A list of key programs and services is included below:
- The Medicare Better Access to Psychological Care initiative is increasing community access to mental health professionals and team-based mental health care. This requires your GP to complete a GP mental health plan and establish appropriate team care arrangements.
- Medicare funding for allied health services is also available through a GP Chronic Disease Management Plan.
- Private health insurance may cover mental health services, depending on the type of policy and level of cover.
- Many community health services offer access to mental health services and specialised mental health programs are funded by Primary Health Networks.
- Headspace offers a targeted programs for younger people