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Blog: Blog2

Bridging Gaps in Mental Health Care

Updated: Sep 7, 2023

If you or someone you know has ever been in need of mental health care, you'll know that finding the right kind of help can be really hard. The Australian mental health system is complex, even for those of us that work in it!

Navigating complex systems is hard at the best of times, but when struggling with our mental health, or that of a loved one, it can feel almost impossible.

Here are some common difficulties people encounter when looking for mental health care, & ideas for how to overcome these obstacles:

1. Variable Advice: A lot of people start with their GP when looking for mental health care. GP's can be a wealth of knowledge & mental health guidance, but let's be honest... not all GP's are created equal when it comes to the latest mental health developments.

Some GP's may refer to generic counselling services simply because that's where they've always referred to, instead of knowing the most appropriate service for your specific needs.

A visit to a GP may result in medication for mental health issues, which can be very helpful for some people. However, the research is clear that people recover best with psychological treatment as a core part of their treatment plan. So finding the appropriate psychological treatment is vital when facing a mental health challenge.

Try asking your GP if they know of any specialist services that might cater to your needs. If they don't know, ask them what terms you should look for when searching for care. Is there a certain diagnosis or set of symptoms you could look for when choosing a psychological service to follow up with?

2. Information Overload: If you jump onto google looking for mental health treatment you'll open a portal to hundreds of ads & promotions promising to improve your mental health in an instant! How do you know what is legit & what's just snazzy marketing?

If you google something like, 'anxiety treatment near me', you will get a range of hits that may not actually specialise in anxiety, or may lack formal qualifications to treat your issues.

Instead, be as specific as possible about your symptoms & the care you're looking for. Scroll past the sponsored ads & have a closer look at each of the first page results. Consider sending them a message to clarify whether they can help with your particular issue before booking in.

Check qualifications. Are they registered with a national body that oversees their practice? Did they complete formal study in this area? There are terms such as, 'counsellor'; 'therapist'; 'life coach', that are not regulated & literally anyone can call themselves these titles. Make sure whoever you are going to see has a reputable background & ongoing registration requirements with a relevant national accredited body.

3. Limitations of Public Mental Health Services: Public mental health services, such as community mental health teams & psychiatric emergency care centres (PECC) are aimed at response & containment during mental health crisis. They provide short-term support & case management for people at risk to themselves or others.

Public mental health services don't provide long-term therapeutic support or treatment. People can feel lost once discharged from public services, & struggle to find long-term therapeutic support.

Finding the right long-term community care can reduce the need for crisis interventions in the future, & should therefor be a priority. If you have contact with public mental health services, ask them what kind of long-term support you should look for, including what kind of psychological treatment model might be most helpful for you.

4. Difficulties with Risky Behaviours: Many private & general counselling services do not have the capacity to manage risky behaviours, such as self harm or suicidal urges. These are considered speciality areas that need specialist treatment.

If these issues are present for you or your loved one, look for a specialist dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) service who have experience with these issues. DBT was developed for the treatment of self harm & chronic suicidality, & is considered the gold-standard in treatment for these issues.

5. Cost of Care: Private services charge fees, which can be a barrier for some people. It's worth asking about Medicare & other forms of rebates, as well as payment plans if you find a private service that meets your needs but affordability is an issue. Most private services will try to work with you to make costs manageable.

6. Long Wait Lists: There seems to be a perception that all mental health services have long wait-lists in our post-covid world, but that's not actually the case! There are plenty of highly reputable services that have little to no waitlists, but you just have to find them!

Most practices have cancellation lists where you can get a last-minute appointment if someone else cancels. Ask when you book if that is a possibility to get in sooner.

Whatever you do, don't sit on a wait list for weeks or months... I promise you there are professionals in your area with availability. Keep looking!

7. Hopelessness: The more times a person has tried seeking help without success, the more likely they are to become hopeless. At worst, people may give up looking for help altogether, which can lead to a decline in their mental health or worse.

If you struggle with this, try something new. Not all therapies or therapists are the same.

Here are some therapy models you may not have heard of:

- Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT)

- Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)

- Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT)

- Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)

- Exposure Therapy

- Interpersonal Therapy

- Animal Assisted Therapy

- Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT)

Do some research into recommended therapies for your symptoms, & seek out professionals who specialise in those therapies. Don't keep trying the same thing over & over- but don't give up!!!

How We Can Help:

At Mindful Recovery Services we aim to bridge the gap between low-acuity community services, & high acuity public services.

Our DBT services aim to provide something different:

- The latest evidence- based psychological treatment for emotion regulation difficulties & symptoms

- Expertise with medium to higher levels of risk

- Practical skills training for symptoms improvement & long-term recovery

- Short waitlists to get people support when they most need it

- A range of program options including 1:1, groups, online & f2f services

- Intensive support programs to fast-track change

Our goal is to build long-term therapeutic relationships with our clients & their families, to promote long-term recovery.

Get in touch if you'd like more support:)


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