In the best circumstances, it can be difficult to find the specialist help that you need. But add in the nightmare of Covid 19 and you end up with a mental health sector that is buckling at the knees.
Many psychologists and psychiatrists have closed their books for the rest of 2021 because there has been a surge in demand since the onset of the pandemic. Sadly, this is leaving many people—both kids and adults—desperate for help. You are not alone, there are so many people in the same situation, which is why we have put together a list of things that might help you to manage your symptoms in the meantime. Please don’t lose hope.
- Try not to panic. You will get the help that you need, but it might just take a little longer than you thought.
- Try to find a GP who you feel comfortable with. Ask your GP if they or any of their colleagues have a special interest in mental health, or if they think they can support you until you see your specialist. Most GP’s don’t provide specific therapy like ERP or ACT, but they can be a sounding board if you need one. Also, they might be able to provide you with names of specialists who you haven’t yet contacted or give you information about other options such as group therapy or support groups. They can also discuss treatment options such as medication with you.
- Educating yourself can be empowering. Look for resources such as books, podcasts or mental health apps. Be careful though- jumping onto the internet to try to satisfy compulsions can lead you into a never-ending maze of information that might only exacerbate your anxieties (trust us we have been there!). Finding solid and reliable information might help you to manage your symptoms and feel less alone in your battle. Visit our Further Resources page for more information.
- Ask your workplace if they have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). An EAP is a voluntary program which offers free and confidential assessments, counselling and referrals to employees. The issues don’t have to be work-related. This service, if available to you, could be a huge help until a psychologist who specialises in OCD is available.
- If you have private health insurance, give them a call and ask them what extra resources they have regarding mental health support. They may be able to point you in the direction of specialists in your area. Additionally, some insurance companies have valuable resources, like Medibank’s Better Minds app, which offers tailored learning modules and over the phone coaching from mental health professionals.
- Let people help you. Try to open up to friends or family. If they were suffering, you’d want to know (remember, shame can’t survive empathy).
- 1 in 40 Australians have OCD; it’s only a matter of time until you find a close contact with OCD too. You’re not alone.
- Call a hotline. There are so many wonderful hotlines to call in Australia and you will be connected to someone who will listen to you and do everything they can to help. So, if you’re feeling distressed, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and use these amazing resources. Visit our Further Resources page for hotline info.
- If you’re feeling unsafe, you or someone with you can call the CAT (crisis assessment and treatment) team. They are a 24/7 team of mental health professionals including psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses and social workers based out of emergency departments across Australia. They can help you manage the crisis you are in, and then refer you on to appropriate services for long-term management. Click here for more info.
- Also, if you’ve had a bad experience with a mental health professional in the past, please don’t let it put you off. Keep trying, there are so many wonderful GPs, psychologists, and allied health professionals out there who will help you and who truly care.