Who can prescribe medications for mental illness?
Your psychiatrist or GP (family doctor) can prescribe medications for mental illness.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who are experts in mental health. They have special training in prescribing medication and providing other treatments to help people with mental illness.
Find a psychiatrist (Australia)
How do medications treat mental illness?
Medications work by rebalancing the chemicals in the brain. Different types of medication act on different chemical pathways.
Why are medications prescribed?
Some people with a mental illness need medication to get better.
Medication can be used to treat immediate symptoms. In other cases, it’s used long-term to stop an illness from returning (often called ‘relapse’).
Medication is only one part of treatment for mental illness. It is usually offered together with psychological treatment (talking therapy), education and lifestyle advice.
Your doctor will review your situation, current diagnosis and physical health.
Together you will consider all options for treatment, including no medication if that’s best for you.
You get a say in the medication your doctor prescribes for you, but your doctor doesn’t have to prescribe the medication you ask for.
Each medication has a few names: a generic name and one or more brand names (also called proprietary or trade names). Each company that makes the medication has its own brand name.
||Prozac®, Fluotex®, Lovan®, Zactin®
Paying for medication
Most medications used to treat mental illness are listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) in Australia.
The PBS reduces the cost of medications to Australian residents. If you have a Health Care Card you will get a further discount.
Many medications are government subsidised in New Zealand so that you pay only NZ$5 per prescription. Prescriptions for children aged under 13 are free. Once you've paid for 20 prescriptions in a calendar year, other prescriptions in that year will be free.
Generic brand medication
Generic brands are often cheaper than brand name medication. They have the same active ingredients and work just as well.
Generic brands are just as safe as brand name medications. All approved medications go through a rigorous testing and approval process.
Your doctor may recommend a medication that is provided ‘off-label’.
This is where a medication is used for a condition or for an age group (for example children) that is not listed on the product information.
If this is the case, your doctor should explain why they recommend this treatment. You will have to pay the full amount for the medication, which can make it expensive.