Seeking help for mental health

Do you or someone you know have mental health problems? Not sure where to go for help?

Are you having a tough time and need to talk to someone right now?

In case of crisis, please contact:

Click to find information about more Australian mental health helplines.

Click to find BPD treatment services in the ACT.

How can I help myself if I have BPD?

Taking that first step to help yourself may be hard. It is important to realise that, although it may take some time, you can get better with treatment.

To help yourself:

  • Talk to your doctor about treatment options and stick with treatment
  • Try to maintain a stable schedule of meals and sleep times
  • Engage in mild activity or exercise to help reduce stress
  • Set realistic goals for yourself
  • Break up large tasks into small ones, set some priorities, and do what you can, as you can
  • Try to spend time with other people and confide in a trusted friend or family member
  • Tell others about events or situations that may trigger symptoms
  • Expect your symptoms to improve gradually, not immediately
  • Identify and seek out comforting situations, places, and people
  • Continue to educate yourself about this disorder.

Where can I go for help?

If you are unsure where to go for help, ask your family doctor. Other people who
can help are:

  • Mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, or mental health counselors
  • Health management organisations
  • Community mental health centers
  • Hospital psychiatry departments and outpatient clinics
  • Mental health programs at universities or medical schools
  • Hospital outpatient clinics
  • Family or social services
  • Peer support groups
  • Private clinics and facilities
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Local medical and psychiatric societies.

Australia’s mental health system

The mental health system in Australia is complex and state and territory governments fund and deliver public sector mental health services that provide specialist care for people with severe mental illness. The health system is divided into Primary and Tertiary.

The Primary sector is usually the first point of contact and includes General Practitioners and Community Health Centres.

The Tertiary sector is usually accessed by referral from a primary care doctor, social worker or psychologist and includes specialised mental health care delivered in public acute and psychiatric hospital settings, consultations with specialists, specialised community mental health services, specialised residential mental health care services and supported accommodation and social housing programs. Tertiary Care can also be found in organisations considered as support services such as Well Ways, Reach Out, ACT Counselling, etc.

The Tertiary sector is complicated when classifying the public and private sector, for example private hospitals and public hospitals or private psychologists, counsellors and psychiatrists. This is further complicated when we consider funding arrangements.

For more information

Australian Government: Australia’s mental health system

SANE Australia – Navigating the mental health system

Health Direct – Australian mental health services

Australian BPD Foundation Ltd – How to access treatment


The cost of mental health services varies enormously, depending on where you live and what service you are getting.

If you see a doctor (GP or psychiatrist), then Medicare covers some or all of that cost.

If you are in a public hospital, care is free, at least for a while.

If you are in a private hospital, you will be charged. If you have private health insurance, that will cover some of the costs.

If you see a community mental health service, that is free.

If you are cared for by an non-government organisation (NGO), that is usually free.

The Australian Health System is divided into Primary Health Networks and Local Hospital Networks. The Australian Government can directly fund programs such as support services and other health services and funds to the ACT Government for Health Services and Hospitals. The Australian Government funds mental health-related services through the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and the National Disability Scheme (NDIS).



Medicare payments contribute to mental health professional consultations. If you visit a mental health professional in the public system, the professional claims the subsidy directly to Medicare.

Access to psychologists and other allied health providers may be dependent on eligibility, be subsidised through initiatives such as the Better Access Initiative which gives patients Medicare rebates for up to ten individual and ten group allied mental health services per calendar year after completing a Mental Health Treatment Plan with a GP.

For more information

Health Direct – Medicare

Download the Better Access to Mental Health Care fact sheet.


The NDIS commenced in the ACT on 1 July 2014 for people up to age 65 with a permanent disability. Since it is possible for people to recover from BPD, only some with BPD may meet the criteria for the NDIS, but for most, would be ineligible.

For more detailed information on accessing NDIS see Mind Australia – NDIS resources.

For more information

Australia BPD Foundation – How to access treatment