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About psychiatrists

Psychiatrists are medical doctors with special training and skills in preventing, diagnosing and treating mental illness and emotional troubles.

Some psychiatrists are child or paediatric psychiatrists. This means they've done at least two years of special training on the mental and emotional problems that children and teenagers might go through.

Why your child might see a psychiatrist

Your child might see a child psychiatrist if he has:

  • childhood depression or pre-teen and teenage depression
  • severe childhood anxiety or teenage anxiety
  • self-harming behaviour
  • schizophrenia (psychosis)
  • an eating disorder
  • a severe conduct disorder
  • trauma or other stress-related disorders
  • emotional or mental problems that are making a physical illness worse.

If your child is suffering from any of the problems described above, your psychiatrist will look at the best treatment for her. The psychiatrist will look not only at your child but also your family.

Treatments might involve:

  • individual therapy
  • family support - for example, education and advice
  • family therapy to improve family communication
  • parent counselling
  • medication - for example, antidepressants
  • a combination of these treatments.
To see a psychiatrist, your child will need a referral from your GP. Your GP can help you decide about seeing a psychiatrist and help you find someone who's right for your child.

Before going to a psychiatrist

Before seeing the psychiatrist, it's a good idea to find out about the following things:

  • Why you're going to the psychiatrist: talk with your GP about why your child needs to see a psychiatrist.
  • Is there anything you can do while you're waiting for the appointment?
  • Waiting list: how long before you can get an appointment to see the psychiatrist?
  • Making an appointment: it might take you more than one phone call to make an appointment.
  • Cost: how much will the appointment with the psychiatrist cost? It might be expensive. Medicare covers part of the cost of seeing a psychiatrist, but you might have to cover some costs yourself.
  • Location: find out where you have to go to see the psychiatrist - for example, a public or private hospital, or consulting rooms. You might have to travel further than you expect, depending on your child's needs.


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