Where to seek help for mental health issues

Here's a basic guide on the help and services available if you or a loved one need mental health support.

Written by Medibank

If you need help because you or a loved one are experiencing a mental health condition, start here.

woman consulting a doctor

Speak to your GP 

If you’re concerned about your mental health, start by talking to your GP. As the first port of call, your GP can assess your symptoms, develop a mental health care plan specific to your needs, and refer you to a mental health specialist. 

Seeing a mental health professional

Once you’ve got a mental health care plan, your doctor may refer you to a specialist for more support, or in some cases to help make a diagnosis. This could be a psychiatrist, psychologist or counsellor. Under Medicare, everyone with a care plan is entitled up to 10 subsidised specialist appointments per year. While Medibank doesn’t fund these sessions, if you have extras cover that includes psychology we will pay benefits towards subsequent sessions with a psychologist or recognised counsellor  (up to annual limits). Read more about using your cover. 


Counsellor is a generic term for someone who offers talking therapy and may be a psychologist, nurse, social worker or occupational therapist. It’s a good idea to check that your counsellor has training in an area that is appropriate for your needs - you could start by searching through organisations like The Australian Counselling Association or Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia


Psychologists can provide a range of therapies (eg. talking therapy, art therapy) to deal with problems like depression, anxiety, stress and grief. Psychologists have undertaken a tertiary qualification in their field and must be registered to work with the Psychology Board of Australia. 


While psychologists and psychiatrists share many similarities, the major difference between the two professions is that psychiatrists specialise in the biological causes of mental illness, while psychologists focus more on the cognitive and behavioural aspects. Psychiatrists are medical doctors with specialist qualifications in psychiatry, and are therefore able to prescribe medications and admit people to hospital, while psychologists cannot. 

Better supported with 24/7 Mental Health Phone Support

When you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, it can be hard to know where to start. Members with hospital cover can talk to a mental health professional for advice, guidance and support anytime of the day or night.~

Hospital services 

Some people who experience mental health problems may need to spend some time in hospital. Both public and private hospitals provide mental health services. You may be referred to a hospital through an emergency department, community mental health team or your GP. 

Online resources 

In addition to in-person services, there are also a number of online resources available, including: 

Beyond Blue for information and advice, as well as an online live chat. You can also call and speak to someone 24 hours a day on 1300 22 4636

PANDA provides a free confidential helpline service offering support for new and expecting mums and dads who are struggling with becoming a parent. You can call 1300 726 306 to speak with a trained counsellor 9am-7.30pm (AEST), Monday to Friday.

Lifeline for crisis support and suicide prevention services with an online live chat. You can also call them 24 hours a day on 13 11 14.

Need a little extra support?

Medibank Better Minds App 

Want to manage your mental health on your own terms, in your own time? Medibank’s Better Minds app provides personalized support and follow ups by health professionals for those at risk, all included in your hospital cover.

Learn more 

No waiting periods on psychology and counselling consultations

You shouldn’t have to wait for your health insurance to claim for mental health support. That’s why there are no waiting periods for counselling and psychology consultations on Medibank extras and packaged products.§

Read more about using your cover

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Looking for something else?

Visit our Better Minds hub to find more tools and services.

Things you need to know

~ OSHC members should call the Student Health and Support Line on 1800 887 283.

Not available for members with extras only cover, Overseas Student Health Cover or Overseas Workers or Visitors Health Cover.

§ For members with mental health support included in their Extras cover. Annual limits apply. Counsellors must be registered with Australian Counselling Association, Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia, Australian Traditional Medicine Society.   

While we hope you find this information helpful, please note that it is general in nature. It is not health advice, and is not tailored to meet your individual health needs. You should always consult a trusted health professional before making decisions about your health care. While we have prepared the information carefully, we can’t guarantee that it is accurate, complete or up-to-date. And while we may mention goods or services provided by others, we aren’t specifically endorsing them and can’t accept responsibility for them. For these reasons we are unable to accept responsibility for any loss that may be sustained from acting on this information (subject to applicable consumer guarantees).