Supporting someone along a mental health pathway
Support networks play an important role in supporting a person across a mental health pathway. Here, we explore the different stages of the mental health pathway and how you can provide support.
You can also find useful information in the corresponding sections for people with intellectual disability. You could either go through this information with the person you support or read it for yourself. This page will cover information specifically around your role and supplements the information presented in the sections for people with intellectual disability.
How to help people navigate mental health services
As someone who supports a person with intellectual disability, you may have to help the person to access mental health services. There are many ways that you can help, including:
- encouraging the person to speak to their GP first
- supporting the person to call mental health helplines such as Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or calling on their behalf
- ring the NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511 any time, on any day, if you need to speak with a mental health professional. The mental health professional will ask you questions about the person you support’s mental health and what sort of help they need. They may refer them to the local mental health team or they may give you information and contact details about other services that can help them
- looking at information online together.
Finding mental health services can be challenging, especially when looking for services that have experience supporting people with intellectual disability. Many people tell us how difficult it is – you are not alone. Below are some things that you can do that may help.
- Speak with other family members and carers, or support workers, for ideas and advice on finding good mental health services in your area. They may also be able to give you guidance around next steps.
- Conferences and forums can be a useful place to learn about health and disability information and services. For more information on health and disability services see the Services for mental health section.
- If the person’s GP is unsure how to best help the person or where to refer, you can ask the GP to call the Statewide Intellectual Disability Mental Health Outreach Service or the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network Mental Health and Intellectual Disability Hub for advice. These services are only open to registered health professionals. They are not for the general public.
- If a mental health service is unable to accept the person or there is a long waiting list, you can ask them to suggest another service.
- If the person you support prefers to contact the mental health services themselves, you can support them to do this. For example, you could role play making a phone call with the person.
It can be stressful for support networks to help a person with intellectual disability navigate the mental health pathway. During this process, you should consider whether you would like any support yourself. For more information about looking after yourself, see the Looking after myself section. 3DN’s Intellectual Disability Health Education also has an e-learning course for support workers on how to support carers, colleagues and yourself. The course is available to access for a small fee.
How family, carers and support networks can be involved at each stage of a mental health pathway
This section contains information that is relevant to family, carers and support networks. For more information about mental health pathways, you can view Getting support for my mental health in the I am a person with intellectual disability section.