Physical injuries are something that we can't ignore. They cause a great deal of discomfort and stop us from operating at our full potential. The exact same can be said for injuries of the mind. So why do we treat psychological injuries any different to physical injuries?
We all learn from a very young age that if we have a buster and have hurt ourselves its either Mum patching us up on her own or she takes us down to the local hospital or doctors’ clinic for an x-ray or a few stitches. In other words, if we hurt ourselves physically it is widely accepted that receiving fast and effective medical treatment to get us back on track is normal practice. Then why is it not common practice for us to seek help for our mental state when something isn’t right? Bloody beggars’ belief.
I have been doing some research around this topic and I have noticed a few barriers people are facing when it comes to seeking help for a mental health issue.
Too Many Options
I think there are too many options….. (is there an echo in here?) do I go and see my GP or a Psychologist or a Psychiatrist or a Counsellor or even a bloody Psychotherapist?! What on earth does any of those titles mean. Well strap yourself in, your about to get a lesson on Mental Health practitioners’ and which one you should go and see in each different situation! Yeah baby…
So straight up here is your list….
The Humble GP
If you're feeling stressed, anxious, depressed, or having difficulty managing, your GP is a good first port of call. Figures suggest Australians see their GP's for their mental health issues more than any other health concern (surprising stat!). All GPs have mental health training, and for most of us they are the health professional we know best and the one we see most often. If you know you're going to see your GP about a mental health issue, it can help to plan and book a double appointment. It will give you a bit more time to have a bit of a chin wag about what's going on, and what might be the best treatment options for you. Depending on your situation they may refer you to a psychologist, psychiatrist, counsellor, or other mental health practitioner. They may also put you on a GP Mental Health Treatment Plan, which gives you access to subsidised care. If your GP doesn't refer you to a mental health professional, you can go directly to a psychologist or counsellor yourself if you want to.
These peeps are experts in human behaviour, perfect for that uncle of yours that fly’s off the handle at any given moment. They use scientific methods to study the factors that influence the way we think, feel, learn and behave. Psychologists work in a variety of settings with a vast range of people. They deal with everything from depression, anxiety and eating disorders to relationship problems and personal growth. That's because psychologists don't just provide counselling and therapy to people with diagnosed mental disorders; they also work with mentally healthy people to help them function better. They can provide guidance and support, give perspective, and teach coping strategies to people experiencing things like significant change, stress, illness, grief, learning difficulties, behavioural problems, substance abuse, relationship breakdowns, and so on. Psychologists use different types of psychological treatment (or talking therapies) to help people explore and challenge their behaviour and thought processes.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialise in diagnosing and treating mental illness. These guys are the real pros! They tend to treat complex and serious mental illness and have a deep understanding of physical and mental health, and how they affect each other. They typically work with people with conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe depression, eating disorders and addiction. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication, which they commonly do (if appropriate) alongside their use of psychological treatment (also known as psychotherapy), and brain stimulation therapies. Psychiatrists work in public and private hospitals, community mental health services and private consulting rooms. You'll need a referral from your GP or another medical doctor to see a psychiatrist. Don’t believe everything you saw in that Fawlty Towers episode.
Counsellors use talk-based therapy to help people to develop self-understanding and make changes in their lives. These guys love a chin wag. They counsellor will allow you to talk through your personal concerns, gain perspective, develop coping strategies, and increase self-awareness. If you're feeling stressed, worrying about the future, having relationship problems or just need someone to talk to, an appropriately trained counsellor may be a good option.
So, there you have it, 4 different professions that can help each any everyone of us with a problem we may be facing or even if we just want to become better versions of ourselves. Like I said to someone last week who has been battling with something for a long time now. Why keep battling something on your own for many years when you could go and see a professional for a few hours and get a new perspective on it that will inevitably make your situation better? Wasn’t it Albert Einstein that said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” Just think about the difference speaking up will make.