10.9 Who should you see? What services are available?

i) Who do you go to?

If you think someone in your family or even yourself have a mental health problem related to your brain injury who is going to help you?

This is sometimes the biggest challenge, but there are other challenges.


There is a lot of stigma in our community about mental health problems. People are embarrassed or ashamed. People think they should be able to fix the problem themselves and so it can be very hard to go and talk to someone about some mental health problems particularly if you are having symptoms like hearing voices or you believe things that no one else believes.


One of the most important factors that will influence who you see for your mental health problem is where you live. In various parts, particularly of New South Wales, we have a marked shortage of mental health professionals. We even have a shortage of general practitioners. So it can be very difficult to go and see someone. It is important to know who in your local community is able to help you.

Telehealth (consultations via the computer) is making it easier to find an expert.


ii) Brain injury specialist

If you are being treated by a brain injury team or a member of your family has a brain injury specialist that is one port of call where you can go to speak to someone.

Most brain injury teams will have a psychologist on staff or a psychologist they can refer to who will be able to see you and speak to you about the problems you are having. They can probably even make a diagnosis, provide treatment or recommend certain types of treatment.


iii) Rehabilitation specialists

Rehabilitation specialists are also skilled in making diagnosis and assessment of mental health problems.

A lot of these problems they can treat. They will only refer on if the problem is a little bit more difficult or the first type of treatment they have tried has not worked.

General practitioners are also very good at dealing with mental health problems and you could see your family doctor.



iv) Psychiatrist

You might be referred to a psychiatrist for assessment and management of a mental health problem after a brain injury. There is nothing embarrassing about seeing a psychiatrist, they are a doctor like any other health professional but they simply specialise in looking at mental health problems. They will be sympathetic to the problems that you have and hopefully be able to explain to you so that you can understand better why the problems have occurred.


v) Other services

There are a range of different types of services for getting help if you have a mental health problem.

Many people think if you have a mental health problem you get taken to a psychiatric hospital, locked up and the key is thrown away. Doctors do not admit very many people with mental health problems to hospital now. Only the most severely ill people with mental health problems will ever come into hospital and usually they will only come to hospital if they want to kill themselves or they are causing serious harm to other people. The majority of people with mental health problems are managed at home in the community with their family where they live. So you do not need to be worried that if you or a family member have a mental health problem that they are going to be taken away to hospital.

There is a shortage of mental health beds in New South Wales and so the chances of being admitted are quite low. There are private psychiatric services that can be available for people with mental health problems. One of the problems with private services is that people have to pay for them, so this might not be available to everyone.