25 May 2011

Good treatment for Bi-Polar sufferer?

| blamanda
Join the conversation

I’m hoping for some recommendations on a good psychiatrist/therapist/psychotherapist/psychologist in Canberra.

My partner suffers from Bi-Polar disorder and to date has only seen a psychiatrist at City Mental Health. His appointments consisted of a 5 minute chat and a new script which hasn’t been of much help. So now we are looking to enlist the best help possible to manage this often debilitating and destructive illness.

Thank you all in anticipation.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

If anyone here would like to help me raise some funds for the Black Dog Institute I’m joining in on the Black Dog Ride to Alice Springs in August (http://www.blackdogride.org.au).

The past two rides have raised significant funds to support their great work. See http://www.everydayhero.com.au/dazzab if interested.


go to Black Dog Institute or an affiliated practice in Sydney for the initial appointment, then say you live in Canberra and ask for the telehealth appointments via Skype (bulk billed).

IF the OP is still around I’d be most interested in hearing how your partner is going with all this? There’s some good advice in this thread and I’m wondering if any of it helped?

wooster said :

Read and listen to as much Stephen Fry as you can.

His thoughts and insights make difficult situations all the more manageable.

Except that he is uber-rich and an uber-celebrity, the only reason his bad moods and bad manners and nasty episodes are forgiven by sycophants. I’d suggest NOT regarding Fry (who, by the way, was jailed for major theft from family friends in his early 20s) as a role model!

i found Lisa Bell clinical psychologist in Griffith very helpful. It took less than a week to get an appointment and she was very proactive and collaborative in her approach, never talked down to me, respectful and empathetic. She was quite directive, which is what i wanted, not passive and “mamby pamby”. She taught me CBT, Mindfulness and hypnosis. She worked along with my GP and I made great improvements in my anxiety and depression. I think she also specialises in trauma and PTSD and sex therapy. I recommended her to my friend who is having sexual problems in her relationship.

wooster said :

Read and listen to as much Stephen Fry as you can.

His thoughts and insights make difficult situations all the more manageable.

Funny, I have always found Stephen Fry virtually intolerable. Listening to him, or reading him, would be my idea of a punishment.

Read and listen to as much Stephen Fry as you can.

His thoughts and insights make difficult situations all the more manageable.

In addition to the awesome comments here – and there have been some great suggestiosn so congratulations to those who have posted – may I respectfully suggest contacting Carers ACT as they have great resources – which may assist you predomonantly, though its important to be aware that you as the partner are a substantial part of your partners care. As a result u need to look after yourself as well.

Poopy –
“As far as I know the wait to see a psychologist is at least 2 months.” Try calling Capital Rehabilitation in Deakin – they have 4 psychs. I got an appointment with them in less than a week after ringing round all over Canberra. They don’t just do rehabilitation.

our-interface11:56 am 30 May 11

Dr Paul Hughes is a GP at Tuggeranong Square with an interest in mental health issues and is very good and understanding.

On the negative side, in terms of psychologists there is one that you should avoid but I’m not sure if it’s defamation to post her name here..

Im about to start treatment at the Tuggeranong Mental Health centre so I might report back after my first consultation.

NiroZ said :

In looking for psychologists, feel free to shop around, there’s heaps of them, urge your partner to find one that they can confide in (sounds obvious but easily forgotten), and appears to actually help them cope with bipolar, not just have a nice session.

On what basis do you say there are “heaps” of psychologists? Just because there may appear to be heaps listed in the phone book or whatever doesn’t mean that there are “heaps” of psychologists relative to the demand in the ACT.

As far as I know the wait to see a psychologist is at least 2 months. And existing clients don’t get priority. To me that’s completely useless mental health care, you need to see a psychologist regularly for a long period to see any benefit, if you can’t get appointments without ringing up every day looking for last minute cancellations then it’s worthless.

Now that the federal government is heavily cutting the budget for medicare psychologist rebates, hopefully wait lists will come down due to decreased demand and psychologists may even have to lower their prices. It will be interesting to see if Canberra GPs also lower their prices for the “mental health plan” required to access the psychologist under medicare, at the moment it seems they are really ripping off patients and medicare by charging well above the generous medicare rebate of $160 odd dollars and yet only taking the standard consulation time of 10 minutes to prepare the “plan”.

As others suggested, it may be beneficial to go to Sydney first, see a competent GP and get the medication program started at least. If that works, you can see the GP’s here in Canberra as a ‘maintenance’ visit rather that the primary one.

Getting into a decent GP in Canberra is hard – so seeking specialist treatment beyond that harder, and longer still. Get on-line (as others have said), educate yourself and your partnet, and go from there. Use the phone to reach out as well – it saves a lot of time.

You are both in for a rough ride – so good luck with it and with proper treatment, this will be all behind you both. Let us all know how you go!!

DON’T go city mental health they are at best overworked in a toxic environment, at worse dangerously incompetent. Trust me, I have a lot of crazy friends. Another word of advice for that place, the elderly receptionist is incredibly forgetful. If they’re waiting for 10 minutes, it might be a good idea to stand at the desk to make sure she actually told the psychiatrist that you are there.

Regarding psychiatrists, there are quite a few bad psychiatrists out there. Dr Saboisky is quite good, but has a long waiting list, you might want to ring up and ask for recommendations for other psychiatrists.

It’s a good idea to find a GP you like, most bipolar medications require regular blood tests, and they might be able to advise you on finding good care elsewhere. I know Dr. David Cheah of North Canberra Family Practice is good when it comes to mental health, and if you can get in, Dr Phillip Hope of ANU health service is also good.

In terms of psychologists, Mike Barry is good, although a good psychologist is a subjective thing. Look for psychologists offering CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) or IPT (Interpersonal Therapy), studies have shown those two to have the best effect for bipolar, and can actually make a fair difference, although obviously not as much as medication.

In looking for psychologists, feel free to shop around, there’s heaps of them, urge your partner to find one that they can confide in (sounds obvious but easily forgotten), and appears to actually help them cope with bipolar, not just have a nice session.

Finally, educate yourself and your partner as much as possible about bipolar as possible. Finding a abnormal psychology textbook written in the past 2-3 years in a library/bookshop (My recommendation would be Hancock Library at the ANU) and reading the relevant chapter is probably a good start, they don’t usually assume you know much.

Finally, good luck. You’ll need it.

EvanJames do you mean to say that anxiety and depression are not specific conditions? Just because they are seen as more common does not mean they can not be severe and serious conditions in their own right. Bipolar disorder is often initially misdiagnosed as depression. As with bipolar disorder, management is very important and finding a good GP and/or psychiatrist/ psychologist can be difficult.

Grumpy Old Fart11:49 am 25 May 11

As always there are two sides to this story

It’s an interesting conundrum. Psychiatrists are specialist doctors who can prescribe specific drugs for psychiatric conditions. But for non-drug therapy, you’re better off with a psychologist or similar type of allied health therapist. A combination of the two is optimal. Some GPs have special training in managing psychological conditions, and some have prescribing rights for some of the drugs, too.
Bi-polar is a specific condition, it’s a step up from high-prevalance conditions like anxiety and depression.

For on-going management, you want to be seeing someone locally.
For advice and recommendations, you’re best off talking to the Mental Health Consumers people.

I can recommend North Canberra Practice GP and Fern Hill Psychology for treating anxiety and depression – so I assume they would be good with other mental illnesses too.

Sadly, it’s unlikely you will get good treatment in Canberra. The system is just too overstretched.

If he can manage a trip to Sydney, I highly recommend Black Dog Institute to get his basic medication regime worked out. It’s a pretty intense process, with very detailed questioning about what actually happens when you experience highs and lows, but from that information they get a very good idea of which way your condition is slanted and whether there are any aggravating factors (such as a separate anxiety issue). From that, they develop a regime that exactly suits your particular brand of bipolar. From there, it’s pretty easy to just be monitored by a halfway decent GP.

The key to this is the decent GP, though. The GP needs to write the referral and implement and monitor the recommendations. The best bipolar-aware doctors I’ve seen in the region were at Marima Medical Centre in Goulburn.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.