What to expect at your first appointment

Your first appointment with us may be a planned appointment, or may be unplanned or urgent, depending on your circumstances. You will be seen by a qualified mental health clinician.

Initial assessment

At your first appointment, a mental health clinician will ask you questions about your current situation, including asking about your mood, thoughts and behaviour, such as:

  • What has been happening for you?
  • What are you concerned about?
  • When did you first become concerned or notice any changes?
  • How is your daily life affected by the changes or concerns you have noticed?
  • What helps you manage these concerns or changes?
  • What have you tried on your own to feel better?
  • What things make you feel worse?
  • What do you think you need?
  • What treatment, if any, have you had for mental illness in the past?
  • Have family members or friends commented on your mood or behaviour?
  • What do you hope to gain from treatment?
  • What medications or over-the-counter herbs and supplements do you take?
  • Do you drink alcohol or use recreational drugs?

The clinician will also usually ask to speak to someone close to you - family or friends, to ask on their though about how you are, and what changes they may have noticed in you.

To help to determine a diagnosis and check for related complications, you may also have an assessment by a doctor (psychiatrist or psychiatric registrar), a physical examination, and you may be referred for blood tests and other investigations.

Initial treatment

Following the initial assessment, the mental health clinician will provide you with information, and will make a recommendation about what treatment might be most helpful to you. This depends on the type of mental health issues you are experiencing, their severity, your preferences where possible and what you already know works best for you. Often medication will be recommended.

Sometimes admission to a hospital inpatient unit is recommended to begin treatment, generally in situations when you can't care for yourself properly or when there's a significant risk to your health and safety, or that of others.

For many people, initial treatment can start in the community, with the involvement of your GP, and if required, the input of mental health clinicians from a community team, a private psychiatrist and/or other support people.

Find out more about ongoing treatment.