Types of health practitioners
Finding a health professional who you can work with may depend on a number of things, including the approach they use and how comfortable you feel with the person.
It can be useful to ask health professionals “What can you do for me?” Not everyone is right for you, and it’s important to get the right fit. The first one you see might not be right, so even though it’s hard to have to start again, it’s worth it to get one that feels right for you. You can always ask your friends if they use someone who they would recommend.
You can check if your health professional is a registered practitioner under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act, which means they are recognised and regulated by a professional body.
A visit to your family doctor or general practitioner (GP) is often the first step in getting help for physical or mental health problems.
Your doctor can assess your symptoms and discuss with you what might be the best treatment option(s). You may be recommended medication and/or a talking therapy or be referred to someone else who has specialist knowledge.
Your doctor can also help you work out a self-help programme and keep an eye on your progress along the way
On a regular basis, your doctor will review your situation and may adjust or change your treatment. If there is no improvement or the depression/anxiety gets worse, your doctor may refer you to a psychiatrist or another mental health professional, and they might recommend hospital care.
Psychotherapists or Counsellors
Counselling is the process of helping and supporting a person to resolve personal, social, or psychological challenges and difficulties.
A well-trained counsellor will help you to see things more clearly, possibly from a different view-point, and will support you to focus on feelings, experiences or behaviour that will assist you to make changes for the better.
Psychotherapists are similar to counsellors. They provide counselling and may also offer therapy for past issues or trauma and other approaches like interpersonal therapy.
Psychologists, and more specialised Clinical Psychologists, are registered health practitioners who help you work out what’s happening for you. Psychologists are trained to administer and interpret a number of tests and assessments that can help diagnose a condition or tell more about the way you think, feel and behave..
They also use a range of approaches to help you improve your life. Most commonly, they use psychotherapy (or talking therapy). There are several different types of therapy and the aim is to give you skills to keep yourself well. The psychologist will choose the type of therapy that best addresses your problem and is one you feel comfortable with.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who are specialised in mental health. They can make psychiatric and medical assessments, conduct medical tests and prescribe treatments, including talking therapies and medication.
Trained Peer Supporters
Peer Supporters are people who have been there – they’ve had mental health problems themselves, then had training in how to give hope and support to other people who are going through similar challenges.
You’ll find self-help groups, peer partnerships and one-to-one peer services around the country. The Family Services directory includes an up-to-date list of active groups. Also check out the Mental Health Foundation website: http://www.mentalhealth.org.nz/get-help/in-crisis/support-groups/.
All health practitioners must keep your personal information confidential. This means that it can’t be shared with people not directly involved as professionals in your care without your permission, unless they feel there is a risk to your or someone else’s personal safety.
There are a number of phone Help Services with trained people on the other end if you want to talk/kōrero with someone about how you’re feeling, or if you know someone who may need help. There are options so choose what feels right for you.
Crisis assessment and treatment teams (CATT)
If you think you or someone you know has reached “crisis point”, you need urgent help. Emergency teams (called CATT or PES) provide 24 hour, 7 days a week assessment and short-term treatment services for people experiencing a serious mental health crisis that could include urgent safety issues. Contact your local Mental Health Services immediately.
Depression helpline freephone 0800 111 757
Talk to a trained counsellor who can discuss your situation and find you the right support/tautoko. Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The Lowdown is a website to help young New Zealanders understand depression and anxiety from their own perspective. Get in touch with a trained counsellor by free txt (5626) www.thelowdown.co.nz
anxiety line 0800 ANXIETY (2694 389)
Talk to a phone therapist who can give you support and help you understand anxiety and your experiences.
0800 787 797
0800 229 6757
0800 888 880
0800 654 655
0800 543 354
0800 778 778
0800 787 254
0800 726 666
How to find them
The Family Services Directory lets you be really specific about who you are, what you’re going through and what you need, then it gives you a personalised recommendation with numbers to call for free or places to visit online.
Some health services are free of charge or subsidised. The cost of visiting health professionals varies and it’s good to find out what they charge when making an appointment. Workplaces often have access to Employment Assistance Programmes, ACC may pay for therapy for a sensitive claim for sexual assault and many GP practices now have access to free or subsidised talking therapies.
Some suggestions for your visit
- List the signs and symptoms you’ve been experiencing
- When making the appointment, ask if you can have extra time to talk/kōrero with your doctor
- Consider taking a friend or whānau member with you for support
- List the things you’ve tried that have helped/not helped
- Let your doctor know if you’re on any other medicines, or treatments
- If your current treatment doesn’t seem to be working, ask to discuss another approach.
- If you’re not satisfied with the help from your health practitioner, consider changing to another one.