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An experience of Canberra’s Mental Health service from the consumer’s point of view.

By ThatUniStudent 24 April 2012 25

Well with my life seriously sucking right now I went to ask for help. Over the past 6 months I’ve fronted up at the hospital to ask for mental health help. Each time I’ve been interviewed, assessed, asked lots of questions, and sent home then not called back again till weeks later. This time I am in a deep dark hole and thinking of how much I just can’t cope with anything any more. I figure it is time to quit uni and head off back home to the town I came from.

Why is it that when you feel your whole life is falling apart that the lousy mental health teams here don’t seem to give a s***? What the heck is the idea behind not bothering to contact people who by their own admission are talking about suicide? In this city where so many country kids come in to attend the universities and are left isolated with no support, why is the mental health services here so bad? When people ask for help it takes a lot of guts to make that first step, so they’re in a pretty desperate situation. So why must they be forced to endure for weeks at wits end?

Anyone know of a good, bulk billing mental health service in this city?

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An experience of Canberra’s Mental Health service from the consumer’s point of view.
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Jazmina 9:05 pm 18 May 12

If you need a good GP for mental health issues, I can recommend Dr Marie-Ange Nambiar in Belconnen. She has a particular interest in mental health and has just completed her Masters. She is very knowledgable and it is easy to get in to make an appointment, particularly if you tell the receptionist that you need to get in on short notice.

Katietonia 2:21 pm 03 May 12

gentoopenguin said :

Have you seen your GP and asked for a mental health plan? You can see a psychologist as an out-patient and receive a Medicare rebate under this scheme. For more info, see here: http://www.psychology.org.au/medicare/fact_sheet/

Good luck. I know it’s tough but just try to get through one day at a time.

As far as I have seen, you still have to pay for the psych up front then get the money back, and that is usually over $200 that a lot of people don’t just have on hand. Then again I had a job, maybe with a health care card it is free?

After suffering years of mindcrushing, soul destroying depression that I have come through the other side of, I really feel for you. Going to my GP wasn’t helpful, they did was put me on anti depressants which in the long run made the situation worse .It might seem pointless to tell you this but at the time I thought OK wow, went to the GP, and everything is worse now so it won’t ever get better. I am here to tell you that it can and will.

You may need to try several different things until you find the right treatment for you. You may take medication and find it perfect, you may not. It isn’t the end of the world, just move onto the next option. There is no, one right answer and you even posting on here, reaching out shows that you genuinely want help and want to get better. You are in a crisis though and need help right now, so speak to your doctor about getting you into a stable zone, so you can move forward with seeking treatment. If you ever want to chat, email me: kuolemantuoja@gmail.com

dazzab 10:47 am 25 Apr 12

Mental Health Worker said :

The Crisis Team has a variable service depending on who you speak to, but try phoning them first rather than just rocking up to the emergency department. If they’re busy when you call, book a time to phone them when they’re not busy – soemtimes the middle of the night can be a good time, and the worker might be bored and have lots of time for you! Also try Calvary Emergency if you must go to a hospital emergency department, as it has more direct access to a lower-intensity psychiatric ward (they call it Ward 2N) if things are that bad that you need to be in hospital.
MHW.

I can’t let these comments go unchallenged given my experiences of dealing with the CATT team over the years. While the people working there are certainly very caring and I have the utmost respect for how hard they work, the system they work in seems dysfunctional which results in ‘consumers’ simply not getting the services that they desperately need when they need it.

It appears to me that the service is set up primarily to triage to the point that no one can get service. Unless you are brought in by ambulance you won’t get much service from them as they can only deal with the most urgent of cases. Their primary goal seems to be making sure that beds are not filled.

Even patients who have claimed that they are going to kill themselves have been discharged by them. A few years ago that resulted in at least two deaths although in fairness, the details are private so they can’t defend themselves about this making them easy targets. I can however personally testify that even if you clearly state the intent of self harm upon discharge (which is not an easy thing to admit) that you may be discharged. I’m not sure what parameters they use to determine when someone is ready for discharge but it sure seemed odd to me. And the level of post discharge follow up was dismal.

I really don’t like writing this because the individual people work so hard under very difficult circumstances. Once I was admitted to hospital I received the greatest level of care and respect from the people at the coal face. To this day the mental health system stuffs me around and I avoid services such at the CATT team at all costs. It’s just not worth it and there is no value in it for me. I sincerely hope that others have had better experiences.

Without exaggeration I can tell you that if it weren’t for a caring friend who had gone through depression himself, my GP and Lifeline I wouldn’t be here to write this message now. The CATT team did nothing but let me down and interfere with the process. I hope things have changed over the past four years and that the emphasis is more on prevention so that situations such as the OP wrote about don’t get to the point of requiring hospitalisation.

On a positive note, this entire thread demonstrates quite clearly that people have a much better understanding of depression and mental heath issues now. It also shows that people really care.

There are lots of people out there dealing with depression and mental health issues. Hook up with a few of them and I’m confident you’ll experience a lot of recovery and return to your normal life.

Mental Health Worker 7:35 am 25 Apr 12

Lots of useful suggestions so far, so some of this is reinforcing them:

if you go to a GP for a Mental Health Plan, make sure you arrange to see a Clinical Psychologist – they are trained to a higher level, but more improtantly the Medicare rebate is higher so they are more likely to be free or near free.

If you’re feeling isolated in Canberra, and there would be more friends and family support in your home town, do consider going home there to seek help, but let the university know rather than just walking away. The uni will probably be understanding and let you take a break. Try to view the move as a positive thing rather than a “failure” because really, if you’re going home for positive reasons, it ISN’T a failure. But you may have to balance up whether your home town has as many GPs and mental health workers. But if it has a local public mental health team, there’s a fair chance it’s less stretched than those in Canberra.

The university services (ANU medical centre and counselling service, UC’s equivalent, both also have Psychology Clinics staffed by postgrad students, and Headpsace at UC) are definitely worth giving a go.

The Crisis Team has a variable service depending on who you speak to, but try phoning them first rather than just rocking up to the emergency department. If they’re busy when you call, book a time to phone them when they’re not busy – soemtimes the middle of the night can be a good time, and the worker might be bored and have lots of time for you! Also try Calvary Emergency if you must go to a hospital emergency department, as it has more direct access to a lower-intensity psychiatric ward (they call it Ward 2N) if things are that bad that you need to be in hospital.

If you (or your family’s if it still covers you) have private health insurance, a GP may be able to arrange admission to Calvary’s private psychiatric facility, Hyson Green, which is very comfy and will get you automatic care by a private psychiatrist.

I know that not everyone can easily get care at home, because they live in shared accommodation, or the accommodation otherwise isn’t suitable for mental health workers to visit. Hospitals can provide more itnensive tretment, than can be safely provided in the community, so they do have a place

The nice story about City Mental Health team won’t help you if you don’t live in their catchment area, you’ll be transferred to the Crisis Team or to one of the others (Woden, Tuggernanong or Belconnen).

Of course, all of the above should have been told to yu when you visited the hospital – it’s sad that it wasn’t.

Good luck.

I’d be happy to offer more personal advice if you can work out how to send a personal message through the RIOT Act website (I’m not sure if you can), but I’m not practising in any field that I can see you.

MHW.

dazzab 6:49 am 25 Apr 12

This thread has some spot on suggestions so please make sure that you action them. Talk to a GP straight away and someone you trust like a family member or friend. You don’t have to face this alone and there are many people who understand what you are going through. If you are feeling down and there isn’t anyone around that you want to talk with about it call Lifeline now.

I’m very impressed that you are taking steps to seek help. As you said, it’s not an easy thing to do and when you run in to obstacles like you have it may seem that it’s impossible. But it ‘s not. There are good people that totally understand what you are going through and will be willing to listen and provide assistance.

Although it may not make sense to you now the facts are that help is out there, effective treatments are available and the darkness will pass. I’ll repeat that last part, IT WILL PASS. You will enjoy life and everything it has to offer.

A follow up post to hear how you are going would be great.

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