Stepped Care: Ask Cam, The Carer Navigator

Where can I find reliable information about mental health support and services? Good starting points are:

  • Head to Health, the digital mental health gateway
  • Health Direct – a government-funded service that provides 24 hours a day, 7 days a week access to health advice and information via a telephone helpline and a range of digital channels to help people make more informed health decisions – phone 1800 022 222 or access the website
  •’s Service Finder – The Lifeline service finder is a directory of free or low cost health and community services available in Australia


Where do people go first to have their mental health needs assessed? A good starting point is a GP, a community health centre or a counsellor, psychologist, midwife or maternal nurse or Aboriginal Health Worker


What does self-management mean and why is it important? Self-management is about people being supported to learn how to manage emotional ups and downs and tough times. It’s about learning ways of building up resilience, of staying mentally and emotionally healthy. Self-management doesn’t mean a person is left to it, to do it by themselves. Far from it. Self-management support can help and inspire people to learn more about their conditions and to take an active role in their mental health and wellbeing.

When used effectively, it is the name given to the process of helping people to help themselves. It’s about balance. There is strong evidence to suggest that supporting people to self-manage can improve their motivation to look after their own health and positively impact how they engage with services.


Where can I find out about specialist mental health services in the ACT? A good starting point is  this website on publicly funded specialist mental health services in the ACT. You can also ask your GP, a community health centre or a counsellor, psychologist, midwife or maternal nurse or Aboriginal Health Worker.

A helpful resource for carers and families with contact details of specialist mental health services can be found here


Where can help be found for someone struggling with mental health issues? If you need immediate help, there are many telephone helplines that offer mental health support and counselling 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Helplines are a great resource if you or someone you are supporting is struggling with mental health issues. Sometimes, just by talking things through, things can become clearer and easier to manage.

Find someone to talk to through one of the following mental health helplines:

What is a mental health emergency or crisis?

A mental health crisis or emergency can be:

  • a person’s intense emotional or behavioural response caused by the onset of an acute episode of mental illness or
  • overwhelming psychological distress that may be triggered by an event or change in a person’s circumstances.

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis you may feel overwhelmed with your situation and unable to cope any longer. You may think about or feel like harming yourself or others.  You may think others are trying to harm you.

It is vital that a person experiencing a mental health crisis, receives the correct care as soon as possible to prevent possible harm to self or others. Early care and support can prevent a person’s mental health from getting worse.


 What help is available in an emergency or mental health crisis, including risk of suicide?  

If you are worried you may harm yourself or someone else, or need immediate help for someone else in this situation:

call Triple 000 immediately for help

If immediate mental health support and assistance is required:

call Access Mental Health on 1800 629 354 or 02 6205 1065 .

Access Mental Health offer mental health services that are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These services give you access to assessment and treatment services and offer advice and information on a range of mental health issues.

Support can also be obtained from


What can I do to support a person who is at risk of suicide?

Three steps to prevent suicide:

  1. Ask – If you think someone might be suicidal, ask them directly “Are you thinking about suicide?”
  2. Listen and stay – If they say ‘yes’, they are suicidal, listen to them and allow them to express how they are feeling. Don’t leave them alone. Stay with them or get someone else reliable to stay with them.
  3. Get help – Get them appropriate help. Call a crisis line like Lifeline 13 11 14 or 000 if life is in danger. Offer to help them make an appointment with their GP and to find support. Encourage people to talk with someone they trust who can help.


What support is available for people who has have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event?

After a distressing event, some people find their reactions are serious and do not gradually subside after a month. Severe, prolonged reactions can be disabling, and can affect a person’s relationships with family and friends as well their capacity to work. Such reactions might indicate post-traumatic stress disorder. In this condition, the impact of the event continues to cause high levels of stress. If you think you or someone you know might be experiencing PTSD, seek help from a GP, a community health centre, Aboriginal health Service or a trusted support line including:

  • Lifeline – call 13 11 14 for this free, Australia-wide crisis support and suicide prevention service
  • Suicide Call Back Service – call 1300 659 467 for this free service for people having suicidal thoughts or for family or friends affected by suicide
  • Kids Help Line – call 1800 55 1800 for free counselling for young people between the ages of 5 and 25
  • Eheadspace – provides free online and telephone support and counselling to young people 12 – 25 and their families and friends. If you’re based in Australia and going through a tough time, eheadspace can help – 1800 650 890
  • Mensline Australia – call 1300 78 99 78 to access this free telephone support service for men with family and relationship issues
  • beyondblue– call 1300 22 4636 for support for issues relating to anxiety and depression
  • OzHelp – Ph: 1300 OZHELP (1300 694 357)
  • QLife – call 1800 184 527 for free peer counselling and referral for LGBTI people from 3pm to midnight each day

Head to Health provides information about and link to digital mental health treatment programs for trauma.


What support is available for people who have begun to feel anxious and/or depressed?

There a lot of options ranging from self-help to professionally guided. A good starting point is Head to Health


What support is available for people whose mental health symptoms are increasing symptoms and whose daily life is becoming more affected?

Make an appointment with your GP, community health centre or other primary health service. Ask about a GP mental health plan and access to psychological services.


What is a GP Mental Health Plan and how do I get one?

A mental health care plan is a plan for people with a mental health disorder. If you have mental health issues, your doctor can write out this plan.

  • It identifies what type of health care you need and spells out what you and your doctor have agreed you are aiming to achieve. It also may refer you to local mental health service.
  • Visit your doctor who will assess whether you have a mental disorder and whether you will benefit from a mental health treatment plan.
  • Your doctor will ask a few questions, fill in the plan and set goals together with you. When you make the booking, ask if a long appointment — 20 minutes or more — is needed.

For more information see Health Direct


What can I expect if a family member has episodic or persistent severe mental illness? 

Ideally, services should address not only the symptoms of severe and long-term mental health disorders, but also the physical, social and day to day impact that typically accompany these conditions. Using recovery approaches an approach to mental health that supports consumers through developing hope, a sense of self, supportive relationships, social inclusion and empowerment , services focus on supporting wellbeing and supporting people to live independently in the community. Treatment and support services frequently involve specialist mental health, primary health (e.g. GPs), psychosocial support, housing, employment and education services. Services should be integrated and coordinated. Specific services required and goals to be achieved should be individually determined and set in collaboration with the service user, their carer and family or other supports, within a recovery framework.

People are encouraged to formulate a recovery and wellbeing plan as well as an Advance Agreement where they can give information that may be useful if they have reduced decision-making capacity in future and an Advance Consent Direction where they can make their consent to treatment, care and support known if they have reduced decision-making capacity in future . To find out more about how people can express their views and preferences about treatment, care and support while they are well and have decision-making capacity click here.


How can the NDIS assist a person with episodic or persistent severe mental illness?

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a way of supporting people who experience disability as a result of mental illness, to be part of their communities and the workforce.

The NDIS offers two types of support – individualised support and general support.

  1. Individualised support involves having an NDIS plan and is available to people who meet the NDIS access criteria.
  2. General support is support to link people to other government services, and local community-based supports and is available to all Australians who experience disability.

Examples of NDIS funded support include:

  • assisting with activities of daily living such as self-care tasks, grooming and hygiene
  • assisting with meal planning/meal preparation, associated skills and independence
  • development of a structured routine that integrates medication management
  • assisting to obtain and/or maintain accommodation
  • mentoring, peer support or support with individual skill development.

A new support item, Recovery Coaches NDIS funded workers that have mental health knowledge , specifically support people with episodic or persistent severe mental illness with recovery and to live a full and contributing life. To read about Recovery Coaches click here.


Are self-management and low or moderate intensity services helpful for people with severe mental illness?

While not a replacement for specialist mental health services, these services are helpful and can assist a person with a severe mental illness to understand and manage accompanying depression, anxiety and emotional distress.


Are there alternatives to online resources?

Yes. Most mental health services and support lines can also be accessed by phone.


How do I get computer access and support?

A starting point is the Community Services ACT website


Where can I get free internet access?

The good news is there is a lot of free Wi-Fi in the ACT. For information about where to access free WiFi /internet see:


I’m still not sure… when do I phone Access Mental Health?

Access Mental Health is the central point of entry to access specialist mental health services in the ACT and are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call them on  1800 629 354 or 02 6205 1065 . if you require immediate mental health assessment or treatment of if you or someone you care about is experiencing a mental health crisis when a person experiences significant and distressing psychological distress requiring immediate treatment. This could be feeling suicidal, experiencing severe anxiety, having a psychotic episode or similar .