Thursday 13th September is R U OK? day, so Dr Jasper Mahon has taken this opportunity to go through some of the common questions that GP's answer about mental health and how to get help when you need it.
When should I see my GP for help?
As soon as you think that you might have a problem. As with many conditions, it is often easier to treat in the early stages.
How can my GP help me?
Your GP can diagnose the problem including making sure that there is no underlying physical cause such as an under active thyroid, low iron or the menopause. They can then arrange treatment with medication and/or referral to see a psychologist.
What is the first step to take when you think you need help?
It often helps to discuss how you are feeling with friends or family, also many employers offer free confidential counselling through an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).
What services can I call?
The Black Dog institute has a list of services, including 24hr emergency numbers https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au
How do I know if I need help?
There are no firm rules on this, but if you’ve been feeling overwhelmingly down or sad for a couple of weeks to a level that’s impacting on your work or home life then it would be sensible to have a chat with a professional.
What if I think my friend/ family member needs help?
Ask them – that’s the whole idea about RUOK day; just asking can be the start of them getting help and getting better. The RUOK website has lots of useful information about how to start this conversation and what to do if someone does need help.
What are some simple ways to reduce stress?
Exercise, healthy eating, hobbies, mindfulness – of these exercise is particularly good as it produces natural endorphins, improves physical fitness and aids sleep all of which can help us feel better. Try and avoid alcohol as it is a depressant and will make the problem worse.