COPMI - Children of Parents with a Mental Illness - Keeping families in mind

Getting help for your loved one

Man having quite coffee

Contact your local doctor first to assess symptoms and ensure they are not caused by another illness...

The hardest step towards getting help is recognising something's wrong. If you can't help your loved one recognise there's a problem, then encourage them to see a professional who can assess symptoms and provide a diagnosis and treatment options.

A general practitioner (GP or doctor) is the best person to see for non-urgent cases. GPs can assess whether symptoms aren't caused by any other illness. They may then refer to a mental health practitioner trained in treating mental health conditions; or if they know a lot about mental illness, they can provide treatment themselves.

There are numerous professionals who can help, including:

  • Mental Health nurses
  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychologists
  • Social workers
  • Psychiatric nurse specialists
  • Occupational therapists

These professionals are trained to help people with a mental illness and will offer treatment to help them recover or cope better. Typically they'll start by assessing the problems, then offer different types of treatment like 'talking' therapy (eg. counselling or psychotherapy) or medication. They'll often offer both as it's been found to be a more effective means of getting better.

If your loved one is particularly unwell, they may need more intensive treatment or care in hospital.

Great Sources of Help

  • In an emergency, where there is immediate danger or risk of harm to a person call Emergency Services on ‘000’.
  • If you’re worried about a family member or friend you can call Lifeline’s 24 hour counselling service on ’13 11 14’.
  • Phone numbers for generic mental health organisations and other helplines.
  • See our Get help page which lists helplines, programs and services specifically for parents with a mental illness and their children and families.
  • PHAMS workers offer non-clinical support to people recovering from mental illness.
  • Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres - 1800 052 222
  • Carers Australia - links to carers organisations all over Australia
  • Mental Health Carers Arafmi Australia - support and advocacy for families and friends with mental illness

See also



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