6 October 2011

Psychological test funding in Canberra?

| ThatUniStudent
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I have been aware for quite some time that mentally, up top I am not quite with it. No, I’m not a mentally deranged lunatic or totally mentally handicapped, but yeah, I’m not Einstein either. I have issues with attention span, memory, thought process, the concept of time in general and I’ve got symptoms of bipolar, borderline personality disorder and a few more. Basically, I’m somewhat screwed in the head.

Surprisingly, most of the time I function okay, but I’d like to function better. So I have been trying to find out where I can get a personality and cognitive exam done. It turns out I can get one done at the University of Canberra psychological centre, or counselling service. I can’t recall which. But the problem is that these exams cost about $150. Which does not sound like much, but when you’re on less than $600 a fortnight, that’s a week’s rent, about 2-3 weeks food or 3 weeks fuel. That’s a lot of money to me.

So, does anyone know if such a test can be obtained for free? I have a health care card and student card if that helps. This means a lot to me. I’m sick and tired of having to put up with things like anxiety, depression, being greeted by people who obviously know my name and face but who I have no recollection of, doing really shit at studies despite putting in massive effort and being socially inept. And before people make smart comments, no, I don’t drink or take drugs, so there’s no cause there.

Thanks in advance for any practical advice or suggestions.

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I suggest you visit your GP who can help you (as this isn’t the field of many in these forums) and as suggested obtain your MHP before visiting any psychologists.

In the meantime though if you want to improve your cognitive abilities you should visit lumosity.com
It is a set of brain training games which help you to improve your memory, problem solving, flexibility, speed and attention skills. Personally it’s helped me remember peoples names almost instantly.

Also sorry forgot to mention, if it is stress, I also have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and have benefitted from Neurofeedback. It encourages the brain into the right brain waves. Athletes use it to get into the winning zone. Very easy, no suffering to do it. You sit with electrodes attached to your head and watch videos the video will only move forward when your brain is in the right mode.
Noel Eastwood at Belconnen is a pschcologist and recommends and uses Neurofeedback and trains others in the method. One of my sons had trouble with concentration and found it great for Uni.

There is some good advice here. As well as doing everything everybody here has suggested and then you could you have a look at the work by Dr Seligman.
There is a whole area of psychology called Positive Psychology, there is a heap of on-line testing on the university site when Seligman conducts research. Sorry I do not have the links.
My own family is badly affected by Bi-polar, two of my adult sons and both of my siblings. We also have a daughter with multiple disabilities that include autism. It seems to go with high IQ and creative intelligence. It has affected them all very differently, the ones that have treatment and take their medications are able to work and have meaningful relationships with other people. Please see someone asap and keep on with treatment.

Best regards to you.

The fact that you recognise that you aren’t 100% on top of things is a good sign – but don’t be too hard on yourself. The demands at university to perform can be debilitating, especially if you have financial and health issues on top of everything else. Keep in mind, no one can give 110% all the time, no one is a machine that can recall, process and produce on demand 24/7. Stress can cause some of the symptoms you’ve mentioned. Or you might find you have an underlying medical issue, such as glandular fever or chronic fatigue – its rife in unis. Uni doctors are there to help – get some professional advice and good luck!

You are an ANU student right? In which case the ANU Counselling Centre is free and I think they are all qualified psychologists. The Counselling Centre can have a bit of a wait time (a few weeks), and there are limits to the number of visits (6 per year I think) but what they can do is have a few meetings with you, run through some of the check-lists/questionaires they have, and then help you with where to go next. They can recommend people or services to try. If you have been there before and not really clicked with the person you saw, then you can always go back and see a different person – no problems there.

The other thing to mention is that if you do go through this and come out with a diagnosis of something like ADHD, then be aware the university has the Disability Services Centre. It is not a good name in the sense that many of the people the work with would not consider themselves disabled. Their business is helping students who have some medical or physical situation which impedes their access to learning. I think a lot of their business these days is around people with learning difficulties and mental health problems. It is free and completely confidential. If you register with the DSC the only way academic staff find out is if YOU tell them. The DSC can provide people with a “Case Manager” type person, and often there are some really simple and practical things which can be done to help. For example, if someone has ADHD or Asperger’s and finds being in a big exam room with hundreds of other people very difficult the DSC can make sure the person gets to sit the exam in a room on their own.

Hi There, You can go to your GP, who can do a mental health assessment and then refer you to a psychologist. This is a federally funded program. You can claim the visit to the GP and the subsequent psychologist visits on medicare. The rebate for the psychologist is $140 per visit.

Have you thought about a career in IT – most of us have something different in the head. We refer to it as Neural Atypical. You can also find some online tests which may help you narrow down what you have. What you have advised of your symptoms may fit into Aspergers or AD(H)D area – however we normally do a lot better in a single field and hopeless in quite a few others.

Yes, the Black Dog Institute is a good idea. I think they may even have some online testing on their website.

Headspace is also a good idea. There’s one at UC.

Also a good idea is to seek a referral from your GP to a psychologist under a Mental Health Plan, as any decent psychologist will do some testing as part of their assessment. Obviously you’ll need to find one who bulk bills. Try PsychSessions or use the Australian Psychological Society’s Find a Psychologist service on their website. Look for a psychologist who is a Medicare Specialist as they are better qualified and the Medicare rebate is higher, so they are more likely to bulk bill (strange, but true). You can identify a suitable psychologist first, then go to your GP for a referral to them. Do not attend any appointments with the psychologist before obtaining the MHP, as you won’t be eligible for the Medicare rebate until a MHP is in place. Also ask your GP about ATAPS (Google it) as it may be free (I’m not so sure how it works).

Also, as you seem to be a student, it might be worth contacting the University of Canberra’s and the ANU’s psychology clinics, and explaining your needs, as they may be willing to perform this service to you. (They’re open to anyone, not just students.) Google finds both of them easily.

And your university’s counselling service may also be able to help, if it employs psychologists (they often do).


If you think bipolar disorder is a possibility, ask for a referral to the Black Dog Institute’s Bipolar Clinic (not the depression clinic) in Sydney. It’ll cost you $60 or so in coach fares to get there and back again for the day (or, if you have a friend who’ll get you to and from Goulburn, $15 by Cityrail). The service itself is free if you have a medicare card. You’ll wait probably three months for an appointment. They do a fairly intensive half-day assessment of your symptoms, with quite detailed questioning about what happens and when. That can feel a bit like an interrogation, but as a result, they can diagnose and recommend medications with a very high degree of accuracy. It’s well worth a try. It can save months or years of “let’s try this” and “let’s try that” with your GP.

“Basically, I’m somewhat screwed in the head.”

Welcome to the club. If your post had been more bitter and cynical it honestly could have passed as something written by myself.

Good luck and keep us posted with any success you have, I wish I could suggest something.

Perhaps it’s worth giving Mental Health ACT a call? If anyone would know, I am sure they would. Or even contact headspace ACT (mental health for “young people”) or the Mental Health Foundation ACT. You can find a whole slew of contacts here. I’m sure one of them would be able to help you 🙂

If nothing else is available you could also book in with your local GP and having an initial chat with them about it, since you can claim back on Medicare. Depends on your doctor though – my GP is great and I feel I can be honest and open with them, but I know not all are like that. Might be more help to you than you think though. Anyway, just a thought. Good luck!

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