Understanding mental health services language
The language that you’ll hear in the teenage mental health services system can be a bit confusing at first. Here’s a quick guide to some of the terms you’ll come across most often.
Therapies are programs or sessions aimed at managing and improving your child’s mental health and wellbeing.
Treatments cover both therapies and medication aimed at managing and improving your child’s mental health and wellbeing.
Services – or service providers – are the people and organisations that offer these therapies and other supports for your child and family. Services often offer a wide range of interventions, therapies and support programs.
Services generally fall into the following categories:
- local, state and Australian government-funded services, which you usually won’t have to pay for
- not-for-profit services and programs, which are mostly funded by government and might be free or partly subsidised
- private services and programs, which you have to pay for in full.
Our article on mental health professionals working with teenagers can help you understand who does what – and how they can help your child.
Financial support for mental health services for teenagers
If your child has an assessed mental health condition like anxiety or depression, your child might be able to get Medicare rebates for up to 20 mental health sessions from psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists each calendar year.
To get these rebates, your child will need a mental health care plan from a GP (this covers what services your child needs and the goals of the treatment), or a referral from a psychiatrist or paediatrician. It doesn’t matter how old your child is.
Navigating the system: tips
If you’re having appointments with many different services, it’s easy to get swamped by information. It can help if you come up with a way of organising it all.
It can be useful to start a folder for notes and comments about progress, cards and brochures, and records of appointments. You might also want to keep lists of terms, words or acronyms, websites and books that you’ve found useful.
You can store this information in a notebook or computer file, or a smartphone app.
You might want to involve your child in this process. This can give your child a sense of empowerment and responsibility for their own recovery and treatment.
Tips from parents
Parents of teenagers who have sought treatment from mental health services have found that the following tips really help:
- Be open to a variety of approaches and a combination of treatments.
- Take your time finding what’s right for your child and family.
- Be prepared to change things along the way, as your child grows and develops and your preferences and service opportunities change.
- Keep trying and bouncing back – don’t let setbacks get you down.
- Talk with family and friends or others in similar situations.
- Take things one step at a time – this can help you stay focused and relaxed when you’re making decisions about the next stage in your child’s treatment.
- Accept that some decisions will be just right, and others might need to be changed – this is OK.
- Talk with your child about how they feel it’s going with services and professionals.
Australia-wide mental health contacts for teenagers
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)
These are government-run services throughout Australia. They provide assessment and treatment for children and young people under 18 years who are experiencing mental health problems. In some areas CAMHS will see people only up to 15 years of age, whereas in other areas CAMHS are available to children and young people aged 0-25 years.
This is a confidential, free, anonymous and secure service that provides online and telephone support and counselling to young people aged 12-25 years and their families and friends.
This is the national youth mental health foundation. It’s for young people aged 12-25 years who are going through tough times. There are headspace centres all around Australia.
This is a free, confidential telephone counselling service for young people aged 5-25 years. It also offers webchat and email counselling for young people and parents and carers.
This is an online mental health service. It offers free, confidential telephone and webchat support and counselling. It also provides practical tools, forums and information in a safe and anonymous online environment.
Beyond Blue has an online youth mental health service. It has online chat, forums and a 24-hour phone counselling line.
State and territory mental health contacts for teenagers
Australian Capital Territory
- Access Mental Health: 1800 629 354 or (02) 6205 1065
- ACT Health – Mental health
New South Wales
- Mental Health Line NSW: 1800 011 511
- NSW Government Health – Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)
- NT Mental Health Line: 1800 682 288
- NT Government – Mental health
- Acute Response Team Crisis Line: (07) 3068 2555
- Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service – Mental health services
- Mental Health Triage Service: 131 465
- Women’s and Children’s Hospital – Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)
- Mental health services helpline: 1800 332 388
- Tasmanian Government Department of Health – Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)
Each health region in Victoria has its own 24-hour triage phone number. To get the number for your area, go to Victorian Government Health Information – Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (0-18 years). Choose your area from the maps on the right of the page.
- Mental health emergency response line: 1300 555 788 (Perth metropolitan), 1800 676 822 (Peel region)
- WA Child and Adolescent Health Service – Child and Adolescent Mental Health services (CAMHS)