For Patients & Carers

What it's like to see a psychiatrist.  

Have you been recommended by your GP, psychologist or another person to see a psychiatrist?  If so, it can be helpful to read the following information so that you can feel comfortable about attending your first visit with me.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a psychiatrist?

Please refer to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists webpage https://www.yourhealthinmind.org/psychiatry-explained/whats-a-psychiatrist) for a general description.

Dr Menon is a medical doctor with over 17 years of experience in psychiatry.  She will assess your mental health thoroughly, to try to clarify causes and consequences of symptoms.

What's the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?

Generally Psychiatrists deal with assessment and diagnosis of mental health conditions.  Having a medical background, Psychiatrists can also assess if there are physical health conditions that are complicating the diagnosis.  Psychiatrists are experts in helping identify medication that may be best to treat mental health conditions.

Psychologists however do not have a medical background.  Their focus is on psychological therapy.  They assess mental or emotional problems and provide therapy that is usually aimed at helping you learn skills and techniques to deal with such problems.

Why has my GP asked me to see Dr Menon?

There are 3 main reasons why your GP would refer you to me:

  1. Your GP may be concerned that you are suffering symptoms of mental illness.  
  2. Your GP may want further guidance in helping you to manage your mental health issues.
  3. Your GP may want confirmation that you do not have a mental illness.

If my GP has asked me to see Dr Menon, does that mean I have a mental disorder?

Not necessarily.  The assessment can often result in the conclusion that you are not suffering from any mental disorder.  Dr Menon will happily put this in writing for you, if this is indeed the case.

What treatment options are available through Dr Menon?

Depending on your condition, medication may or may not be an option.  Dr Menon will discuss in depth all treatment options with you first, before you make your choice.  She will be happy to answer all your questions, and clarify anything you are unsure of.  If she recommends medications, and you do choose to use them, she will give you clear, easy to follow, written directions on how to use them.

A variety of other modes of treatment (therapy, lifestyle modification) will also be discussed.  Dr Menon has access to a wide range of allied health services which she can recommend to which she can refer you.  They work within the same building at Cockburn Integrated Health (http://www.cihealth.com.au/)

Will I be asked to go to a hospital?

Dr Menon employs an approach that aims to help you establish and maintain an effective network of supports within your community.  Her goal is to keep you out of hospital so that you can recover in the community, and function in your usual roles.

If you have any other questions around the issue of hospital, be sure to discuss these with Dr Menon at your appointment.

What about confidentiality?

All information that Dr Menon gathers remains confidential.  If she has to disclose information to a 3rd party, eg an insurance company/lawyer, she will do so only after letting you know.  Her general rule in this regard is to limit the information disclosed to others to the minimum necessary.

Please note: if there is any immediate danger to yourself or someone else, Dr Menon has a duty of care to you to contact your Next of Kin.  Please ensure you provide reception with the name of a responsible person whom you trust as your Next of Kin, together with their contact details.

Please note the responsibilities and obligations to you, below.

How can I see Dr Menon?

Consultations are by appointment only. If you don’t already have a referral, you will need to get one from your GP.

Does Dr Menon have a waiting list?

No, Dr Menon does not currently have a long waiting list. Generally there can be a 1-2 week wait to get an initial appointment. Dr Menon does not see patients in crisis who need urgent attention.

What if I’m unable to attend my booked appointment?

Please inform reception as soon as possible if you are unable to attend your appointment.  The practice reserves the right to charge for non-attendance.

Why do I have to give my contact details to reception?

Please ensure that you give reception a phone number on which you can always be contacted.  This makes it possible for reception to (1) inform you if your appointment has to be changed at short notice, eg if Dr Menon is suddenly unavailable, and also (2) phone you to remind you prior to your appointment.

Is it easy to access the clinic and park there?

Perth Psychiatry has excellent accessibility by public and private transport, due to the close proximity to Cockburn Central train station and the Kwinana Freeway.  There is convenient free under cover parking on site.

Is it obvious to the public that this is a psychiatric clinic?

No, it is not. Perth Psychiatry is located within the Perth Specialist Centre. When you enter the Centre and sit in the waiting room, members of the public can not tell which specialist you are waiting to see. Dr Menon has chosen this location because she is sensitive to the stigma that surrounds psychiatry. She endeavours to ensure the dignity of her patients.

How long does the assessment take?

Generally in psychiatry it can take at least 2 appointments for a psychiatrist to form a preliminary impression of your condition and situation.  Dr Menon prefers that the first 2 appointments are no more than a week apart.  Bear in mind that it takes a number of appointments to make a full diagnosis.  At the end of your assessment Dr Menon will discuss with you the diagnosis and treatment options.  She will prepare a letter to your referring GP during the appointment, and she will invite your input.  This letter will be edited and sent to your GP. Wherever possible, Dr Menon will ensure that you can access a copy of this letter.

FIRST APPOINTMENT

Your first appointment will be at least 45 minutes long.  On occasion, the appointment may start late and/or be of longer duration, therefore subsequent commitments should take this into account.

Please arrive 15 minutes early to register and fill out paperwork.  You will be asked to complete a brief questionnaire covering background information.

When you are in the consultation room, Dr Menon will spend between 45 minutes and 1 hour on your assessment.  She will give you time to talk about your current concerns and symptoms as well as how they affect your daily life.  She will take care to be sensitive with her questions.  To provide optimal care, Dr Menon will need to be able to seek more information from others involved in your care, including family (during subsequent appointments).  She will ask you to request information from other services.  She will always protect your privacy.

  1. Please bring your Medicare Card to your appointment.
  2. You may bring a list of questions you'd like Dr Menon to answer.  If you've done some reading, feel free to bring in the information or web links.
  3. Bring any medical documents.
  4. Feel free to bring your own written account of your problems.  This could include a description of your symptoms, how they developed, and the stresses in your life.
  5. It can be very helpful to Dr Menon if you bring any medication, herbal supplements or vitamins you're taking (so that you don't have to remember how many, how often you take them and the tablet strength).
  6. You may bring a support person to wait with you, and to take you back home, but please note - Dr Menon will see you on your own at the first appointment.
  7. Please inform significant others that correspondence from them can be brought too. However, since Dr Menon strives for transparency in her interactions with patients, the content of this correspondence would likely be disclosed to you.
  8. Perth Specialist Centre Rooms are a family friendly environment.  However if you do bring children, you will need to bring someone to supervise them in the waiting room.  It will be inappropriate to bring them into the consultation.

Dr Menon is very happy to talk with your family member or friend at a later appointment. In fact, Dr Menon's preferred practise is always to gain information from a significant other that you specify.  This is for the simple reason that sometimes, when we are unwell, someone who cares for us can observe changes in us that we don't observe in ourselves. However, Dr Menon is always aware of privacy and confidentiality issues around this. Therefore she will ask you to nominate someone whom you believe knows you well and has known you for a long time.  She will talk to that person for about 20 minutes.  She will inform that person that she cannot give information to them, but will simply gain information from them about you.  She will start by asking them if they have any concerns about you.

FOLLOW UP APPOINTMENTS

Follow up appointments usually take 15, 30 or 45 minutes.  (You will be able to plan these in consultation with Dr Menon).  If you anticipate that your follow up appointment will take longer than originally booked, please advise reception well before the day of the appointment.  Likewise, if you would like another person to attend the appointment, please advise reception well before the day of the appointment.

Prescriptions / medical certificates

Please note: generally, prescriptions and medical certificates will not be given without an appointment.

Whenever you have questions about your medication, it can be helpful to bring your pill packets into the appointment to clarify things.

Currency of referral

If your referral is due to expire, reception will inform you.  It would be greatly appreciated if you see your GP for a new referral.  If not, another appointment will not be booked since your Medicare rebate depends on your referral being current.

FEES

Same day settlement of account is required immediately after each appointment and before leaving the clinic.

Payment in full

If you choose to pay in full, irrespective of method of payment (eg card, cheque, cash) you will receive the Medicare rebate in your bank account, generally within 24 hours. However, if you haven't provided bank account details to Medicare, then reception will provide you with an invoice and a statement of claim.  You can take this into a Medicare office, or process it online or over the phone with Medicare.

Gap payment

If you are unable to make the payment in full, the clinic is happy to accept a gap fee, and Medicare will send a cheque (for the balance that you owe) to you in the mail.  You can either bring this in at your next appointment or post it to the clinic.  Please ensure that Medicare have your up to date mailing address.

MY RESPONSIBILITIES AND OBLIGATIONS TO YOUR GP

I have a responsibility to your GP as your primary care doctor to keep the GP thoroughly informed of assessment, management, and progress of treatment.  Usually your primary care doctor would be the person who referred you to me.  If you would rather I communicate with a GP other than the person who referred you, please give the details of your preferred GP to reception.  At the end of my assessment, which can span 2 or 3 appointments, I prepare a letter to your GP.  Wherever possible, I do this within the appointment, so that you can contribute to the content of this letter.  I usually edit the letter in my own time.  I try to ensure that you receive a copy of this.