Skip to content

6 ways to get help for mental health – and you won’t have to pay a thing!

Dr Hamish Black

Keep on top of your mental health with these free programs

A young woman resting her face on her palm as she stares out a window
A young woman resting her face on her palm as she stares out a window

We all struggle with our mental health sometimes, and we’re not alone. In Australia, it’s estimated 1 in 2 people will experience a mental health condition, opens in a new tab in their lifetime, with 1 in 7 Aussies, opens in a new tab currently living with depression.

The good news is there are a range of different ways to get support – either face-to-face or through digital solutions. We spoke with nib Clinical Advisor, Dr Hamish Black, about some of the ways you can access digital mental health programs tailored to your specific needs, anytime and anywhere.

1. Where to start

If you have concerns about your mental health, or if you’ve noticed changes in the way you’re thinking or feeling, the best thing you can do is speak to your GP to get personalised advice, opens in a new tab

After an initial assessment, your GP can provide you with a referral to see a psychologist for six Medicare, opens in a new tab rebatable sessions, opens in a new tab. Once those six sessions are up, you can head back to your GP to ask for a referral for more rebatable sessions, with a maximum of 10 each calendar year, opens in a new tab

2. When you're experiencing high levels of stress

We all go through our lives experiencing stress of some kind. From financial stress, work stress, relationship stress to everything in between, there are times in our life when things make you feel overwhelmed, on edge and stressed out.  

A national study, opens in a new tab found that 15% of Australians ages 16 to 84 experience high or very high levels of psychological stress. To help understand if you feel high or very high levels of stress, the study explained it as feeling the following symptoms in the last four weeks: 

  • tired out for no good reason 

  • nervous 

  • so nervous that nothing could calm you down 

  • hopeless 

  • restless or fidgety 

  • so restless you could not sit still 

  • depressed 

  • everything was an effort 

  • so sad that nothing could cheer you up 

  • worthless. 

To assist with high stress, This Way Up, opens in a new tab provides online mental health programs that have been clinically proven to help with a range of mental health issues. The evidence-based Coping with Stress, opens in a new tab course helps with learning how to manage stress more effectively. 

“Everyone experiences stress, opens in a new tab from time to time, and we all cope with it in different ways,” says Hamish. 

“From shifting unhelpful behaviours to problem-solving and assertive communication, this course will help equip you with the tools to understand and actively cope with stress.” 

3. If you're unsure if you’re living with anxiety or depression

Sometimes it’s hard to know if we’re just feeling a bit down, opens in a new tab, or if we have a more serious mental health condition like anxiety or depression. While there are common symptoms of depression, opens in a new tab and anxiety, opens in a new tab, the best way to understand your specific mental health issue, opens in a new tab is to seek a professional assessment.  

The MindSpot Clinic, opens in a new tab is a free online and telephone service for Australian adults who might be suffering from symptoms of anxiety or depression,” suggests Hamish.  

“Through this site you can access a quick online screening assessment, opens in a new tab that will help you learn about any symptoms you might be experiencing and guide you on the best next steps to take.” 

The MindSpot Clinic treatment courses have been researched and developed by Macquarie University and has helped thousands of people from all around Australia. 

Credit: nib health insurance

4. Looking to improve your overall mental wellbeing?

If you’re looking to tackle unhelpful ways of thinking or simply just increase your happiness, Hamish suggests myCompass, opens in a new tab as a great place to start. 

“The myCompass platform helps you learn new ways of dealing with your thoughts, feelings and behaviour,” says Hamish.  

“The program can help with managing work and stress, improving mental health wellbeing and recognising depression and anxiety symptoms.” 

With 14 interactivities tailored to different age groups, you’ll learn skills and strategies to make positive changes in all aspects of your life. 

5. If you're feeling disconnected

If you’re feeling continuous or intense experiences of disconnection (“autopilot”), it could mean a more serious mental health issue., opens in a new tab 

Disconnection can feel like: 

  • Feeling emotionally and physically distanced from others 

  • Feeling misunderstood, like no one ‘gets you’ 

  • Not feeling your normal range of emotions  

  • Spending less time with family and friends 

  • Feeling numb or empty 

If you or someone you know is experiencing these feelings, you may wish to check out the Lifeline Support Toolkit, opens in a new tab as a starting point. 

The toolkit allows you to take ownership of your experience and navigate self-help resources, articles, stories and support tools that you can use every day to understand and maintain your mental health and wellbeing. 

6. Want to change your relationship with alcohol?

Excessive drinking can impact your physical health, emotional wellbeing, and social life, and seeking help can be challenging.

"People with alcohol dependency need accessible and convenient solutions for their mental wellbeing recovery, allowing them to address the root causes of their alcohol use without major disruptions," says Hamish.

That's where digital solutions like The DayBreak app, opens in a new tab can help. Created by nib foundation partner Hello Sunday Morning, opens in a new tab, the DayBreak app helps Aussies understand their drinking habits and enjoy hangover-free Sundays while connecting with a supportive online community.

Everyone is different, and while the digital solutions we explored in this article will hopefully help, you may need different support than what these resources provide. Always speak with your GP or medical professional to find a mental health support program that works for you.

If you or someone you know needs help please call:

  • Lifeline 13 11 14

  • Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636

  • Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800

The information in this article is general information and should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Do not use the information found on this page as a substitute for professional health care advice. Any information you find on this page or on external sites which are linked to on this page should be verified with your professional healthcare provider. 

Mental Wellbeing
Woman enjoying sunlight sitting on chair near window at home

Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

A lot of us feel 'flat' during the cooler months.

Read article 7 minute read
Mental Wellbeing
loved one mental illness_thumbnail

7 ways to support a loved one with mental illness

When a loved one is struggling, do you know what to say?

Read article 9 minute read
Mental Wellbeing
Two young women laugh while out for lunch

What is serotonin and how do I increase it?

Known as the happiness chemical, it helps regulate our mood

Read article 3 minute read
1 / 0

Dr Hamish Black

Dr Hamish Black

Dr Hamish Black

Dr Hamish Black has been a medical practitioner for more than 25 years. In addition to his role as nib group medical advisor, he still spends two days a week practising as a GP. He has spent many years working in emergency departments and in rural Australia, including a stint with the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Hamish also loves karaoke and dancing (though not that well at either, he says!), with Play that Funky Music by Wild Cherry being his karaoke favourite.