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Health professionals: who to contact?

Seeking out professional help early can make all the difference.

As a small business owner, your wellbeing and mental health must be a priority. While you may love your job, sometimes, managing life and work when you have your business can be difficult.

Different types of professionals offer different types of help and support – knowing what you need can be an important first step. If you are unsure, speaking with your GP is a good place to start.

General practitioner (GP)

A general practitioner (GP) will often be the first point of contact for any issue relating to your personal health. Your GP can talk to you about the range of things that could be impacting your health and wellbeing, discuss available treatments, make referrals to specialists and other services if needed, prescribe medications and develop a mental health care plan with you.

If you have a mental health care plan, you can receive Medicare rebates for up to 20 sessions with mental health professionals such as psychologists, counsellors, social workers or occupational therapists each calendar year.

Healthdirect can assist you to locate a GP in your area.


A specialist in how people behave, think, feel and learn, a psychologist uses evidence-based strategies, including talk therapies to assist people to overcome challenges.

A clinical psychologist can help assess, diagnose and treat mental illness, as well as assist in preventing mental health concerns.

The Australian Psychological Society can help you find a clinical psychologist near you.

The cost: Medicare will cover part or all of your psychologist's fee if your GP makes the referral and completes a mental health care plan with you. You can make an appointment to see a psychologist directly, however, costs generally start at $100-$150 a session without a GP referral.


A psychiatrist is a doctor who has undergone further training to specialise in treating mental illness. They use a range of treatments, including medications and talking therapies. You can access a psychiatrist with a referral from a GP or through a hospital.

The cost: With a GP referral, some of the costs of the session will be subsidised through Medicare.

Clinical social worker

A clinical social worker who specialises in mental health can assess and treat mental health problems using a variety of evidence-based therapeutic strategies. These can include individual and group therapy, as well as connect you with community-based services to improve your quality of life.

The Australian Association of Social Workers can help you find a clinical social worker near you.

The cost: They can be accessed via a referral from a GP, or through a hospital or community service, and the cost of the service may be covered under Medicare or private health insurance.

Occupational therapist

An occupational therapist provides individual and group programs and activities to enhance participation in the occupations of everyday life – looking after oneself, working, and engaging in leisure and social activities.

For example, they can help you to develop skills to deal with stress and emotions more easily or develop strategies that enable you to stay at work or return to work following a period of mental health concerns.

The cost: They can be accessed via a referral from a GP, or through a hospital or community service, and may be covered under Medicare or private health insurance.

Mental health nurse

Mental health nursing is a specialised branch of nursing with a focus on the care of people with mental health concerns. They typically assist people to manage their medications, understand and manage symptoms as well as what may exacerbate a mental health condition. They also provide counselling and organise practical supports. Mental health nurses are usually found through hospitals or community health services.

The cost: A GP or psychiatrist can also write a referral for you to see a mental health nurse directly. Some mental health nurses operate privately, and their intake requirements and fee schedules will vary between clinicians.


Counsellors offer talking therapies that can assist you to work through specific issues such as relationship problems, loneliness or financial difficulties. They help you explore options and develop strategies for overcoming these challenges. It is important to note that not all counsellors have specific training in treating mental health problems.

The Australian Counselling Association can help you find a registered counsellor near you.

The cost: Rates vary, however, costs are generally a fixed rate per session without a GP referral.

Explore the Ahead for Business Directory of useful numbers and websites available when you need personal or professional help.

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