The right help for me
There are a range of different types of support and treatments available in the community – the challenge is sometimes knowing which types of help are right for you and most likely to work.
What type of treatment is best for me?
The type of treatment that is right for you will depend on a number of factors including:
- The nature of your concern
- Your personal history
- The presence of symptoms, the different types of symptoms you may have and how long they have been present
- The severity of your symptoms.
Sometimes you may be going through a stressful period, and the opportunity to simply talk openly, honestly and without judgement can provide a huge relief. Some lifestyle changes can also help you to release stress (eg. exercise), give yourself the opportunity to focus on yourself, and improve your overall sense of wellbeing.
Often however this won’t be enough, and it will be important to access effective treatment for emotional and mental health conditions that you may be experiencing – just as you would seek treatment for mastitis, diabetes or asthma. But which type of treatment is best for you?
We suggest treatments that are recognised in the Perinatal Clinical Practice Guideline, and have been demonstrated in the research to be the most effective for what you’re experiencing at this stage in your life. Almost all of these are supported by Medicare in Australia, and the first step to accessing them is to book an appointment with your General Practitioner, who will then be able to make the appropriate referrals.
Who is the best person to deliver the treatment?
When it comes to seeking help, it can be confusing to know which type of professional to go to and what kind of help they offer. Below is an explanation of the different types of professionals who provide mental health support and or treatment.
GPs can provide initial assessment, medical treatment (medications), and/or referral to mental health specialists. They can prescribe medication for mental health problems and also some GPs have training in talking therapies.
Psychiatrists are specialised doctors who can provide diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental, emotional and behavioural disorders. They provide both medical (medications) and psychological (talking) therapies.
Psychologists and other mental health therapists specialise in preventing, diagnosing and treating a range of conditions and illnesses through psychological (talking) therapies. In Australia psychologists do not prescribe medications.
There are different types of psychologists, each with different levels of training and experience and/or different areas of focus in their training. Psychologists provide different types of non-medical (non-drug treatments) to help people to understand and manage their symptoms, and the factors that may be contributing to a mental health condition. Psychologists with extra training and expertise in providing help for expectant and new parents are called perinatal psychologists.
Mental health nurses
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers
Counsellors who are not qualified mental health therapists (see above) can offer supportive counselling (such as listening, understanding and self-help techniques).
Helplines and e-Therapies
If you are not ready to meet with someone face-to-face, you may find an e-Therapy or helpline useful. e-Therapies are support and treatments that people can access online. This may be through a computer generated program, or speaking to someone via online chat or video.
There are also a range of telephone services that are available to provide people with an opportunity to talk to someone who understands what you are going through, offer support and guide you to services that might be helpful.
Some helplines are staffed by volunteers who have had some training, others are staffed by professionals.
Ask for help early on
The sooner you seek advice and help, the greater range of treatment options are likely to be available to you, and the faster you can begin to take control of the symptoms and your situation. Often this may involve a combination of treatments and may also involve parenting support services. It can also take some time to find a health professional that you feel comfortable with and is available. Your GP, obstetrician, midwife or maternal and child family health nurse can be a great starting point to help you to find the best treatment approach, or professional to help you.
Remember finding the right person can take time and energy, and waiting until things get worse will only make this harder. Getting treatment early will help you to recover faster.