If you’ve taken the step to get a mental health plan, firstly, kudos to you! That’s a big step in itself.
The experience of getting a mental health plan will be different for everybody and will be largely dependent on the relationship you have with your GP. We would recommend seeing a GP you feel comfortable with, if possible. The doctor will likely conduct the K10 assessment or DASS 21 with you, a questionnaire to gauge your degree of low mood and anxiety. It’s natural to feel nervous during this appointment, but try to be as honest as you can with the GP. Your GP should make a plan with you about what support will be most helpful; this may be a psychologist or a psychiatrist, and the GP can make a referral directly to these services.
- When making your appointment, make sure you tell reception you’re booking in for a mental health plan with your GP. They will book you a double appointment so you’re not rushed through the process.
- If possible, book in with a GP you feel comfortable with.
- This may be the first time you’ve talked with somebody about your difficult experiences and some of the questions you will be asked may feel confronting. Try not to agonise over these questions, just answer as best you can and move on. If you want to look at the questions you will be asked in advance, click here.
- It’s important to remember that the GP session will not necessarily function as a therapy session. It’s the GP’s role to identify the issues, and then refer you onto a psychologist, psychiatrist or counsellor. Don’t take it personally if they don’t unpack your thoughts and concerns with you.
- In some cases, the GP may prescribe medication. Be sure to ask them for information about the medication, including side effects. And if you are feeling unsure, ask to see a psychiatrist to discuss the medication further, if possible.
- Research a psychologist/psychiatrist who specialises in OCD prior to seeing the GP and ask to be referred to your preferred practitioner. We know that this will not be an option for everyone, particularly if you live in rural or regional areas. Luckily telehealth has made accessing specialists a little easier. For more information about finding help within Australia, visit our Finding a Specialist page, and for Telehealth options visit the NOCD site.
- Be prepared that you may feel a little exposed following your appointment. Make a plan for your appointment—go along with a loved one you trust, or talk with a loved one after the appointment, take yourself out for a treat afterwards (highly recommend a slab of cake, two slabs is not discouraged) or a helpline (link to further help section) if you would find that useful. Just do something to nurture yourself.
- Remember, the words on the mental health plan don’t define you—just consider it your ticket to greener pastures. In fact, we would encourage you not to read it. I know this sounds counterintuitive because it’s your plan, but usually it’s very clinical in its language and not particularly strengths-focused. Plus, it won’t say anything about your experience that you don’t already know. You’re the real expert on this.