Accessing a psychologist can be a big decision for a young person to make. There are a lot of barriers to overcome, but with your help they can make the decision. Find out more about psychologists, alternatives to seeing someone face-to-face, and how to access a psychologist. ReachOut.com has resources that can help a young person make the call.
Psychologists can help with:
- diagnosis of mental health disorders
- treating depression, anxiety and other disorders
- changing negative thought patterns.
Accessing a psychologist
Psychologists work across a variety of settings such as in private practice or in schools, prisons and remand centres, hospitals and in research settings. To initially access a psychologist an individual will usually have to obtain a referral from a GP or a pediatrician (child health professional) or psychiatrist. As part of an individual's Mental Health Care Plan, a psychologist and GP will work together to provide support, manage medication (if required) and carry out psychological intervention. Therefore, it's important that all parties involved are working together closely and that they have an understanding of working with young people. It is important to obtain some background on the psychologist that the young person has been referred to, and often this can be done by talking with the referring GP.
Overcoming barriers to accessing a psychologist
The barriers for a young person in accessing psychological help are the same as those faced accessing a GP. The cost and the accessibility are of great concern but perhaps the stigma is greater when accessing a psychologist than a GP. It is important that all parties involved in working with the young person are conscious of the impact that stigma has on the ability of the young person to access help.
Some psychological services are part of a larger program that a young person may access for free, such as Headspace. Private health care insurance will often cover part of session costs, dependent on the fund and policy, so it could be beneficial to explore this avenue as an option also.
Other psychologists work under a Medicare scheme to assist with costs which means that the sessions may be free or that only the gap between the rebate and the session cost has to be paid. If the young person is financially in no position to pay for the session, the gap between the session cost and the rebate can often be negotiated.
All psychology Medicare services are limited to a maximum of 10 individual sessions per client per calendar year, with a review by the referring GP after the initial six sessions have been completed. In addition, if appropriate, an individual may also be eligible for 10 additional psychological group sessions services in a calendar year.
Find out more about the Better Access scheme.
Alternatives to a psychologist
Many young people find it incredibly daunting to access a psychologist, and are often unwilling to admit to themselves that they need mental health treatment – or to be seen to be accessing it. They may fear the stigma it creates among their peers.
Online counselling and support services can be a good first step. eheadspace offers online chat, email and phone counselling support from youth mental health specialists and psychologists.
Find a psychologist
For more information and to find a psychologist in your area, you can:
- check the Australian Psychological Society website
- talk to a local headspace service
- get a referral from a GP.
Resources for young people
ReachOut.com has a range of fact sheets and information that can help a young person make the decision to access a psychologist.