Department of Health and Human Services

Information for consumers

The following frequently asked questions can assist you in understanding how the mental health advice line can help.

Frequently asked questions

What is the Mental Health Advice Line?
Mental Health Advice Line is a state-wide Victorian phone service that provides expert advice, information and referral on any mental health issue 24 hours 7 days a week.

The service is available from any landline in Victoria for the cost of a local call or mobile phone at standard charges.

Who can call?
We welcome calls from Victorians of all ages, including children, young people and older people. You can call about yourself, a friend or a family member.

If you would like to speak another language, we can organise an interpreter. The National Relay Service is available to assist callers who have difficulties with hearing or speech.

Who will take my call?
The Mental Health Advice Line is staffed by Registered Nurses, Registered Psychologists, Occupational Therapists and Social Workers based in Victoria.

The person who answers your call will be trained to assist you with any mental health query or issue and has access to up-to-date health information and service directory information in your area.

What happens when I call the number?
Firstly, you will hear a short pre-recorded message which provides information about your privacy rights when contacting the Mental Health Advice Line, and then your call will be answered by a mental health professional.

The mental health professional will take your details (if you agree to give them); ask you the reason for your call and help you work out what to do next.

How quickly will my call be answered?
Mental Health Advice Line will answer all calls as quickly as possible. However, at times of high demand you may experience a short wait, when recorded information about mental health will be heard.

If it's an emergency, you should hang up and call 000.

Does the service operate on public holidays?
Yes. Mental Health Advice Line operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year, including public holidays.
Can I remain anonymous?
Yes. The mental health professional will ask you for some basic personal details, but you may remain anonymous if you wish. All information provided remains confidential and records are fully secure. The privacy policy is available from Medibank Health Solutions.
Is this service run anywhere else in Australia?
There are other telephone services offering information on specific mental health and wellbeing issues. But this is the first service of its kind in Australia. The Mental Health Advice Line is the only mental health telephone service where all Victorians are able to obtain mental health information, advice and referral across the broad spectrum of mental health issues.
Who is the service provider?
The Mental Health Advice Line is operated by Medibank Health Solutions, an organisation with extensive experience operating telephone triage, health advice, counselling and referral services in Australia and New Zealand.
What will happen to other health help lines like beyondblue, Lifeline, SANE and PANDA?
These services will continue to operate in conjunction with the Mental Health Advice Line. You can choose to seek advice from these specialised services or to ring Mental Health Advice Line.

The Mental Health Advice Line will refer you to these other health services if appropriate.

Why has the Victorian Government established this service?
The Victorian Government recognises that navigating the mental health service system can be difficult and people do not always know the best care option to meet their needs.

The Mental Health Advice Line provides Victorians with easy access to professional mental health advice, information and referral, anytime of the day or night. It complements Victorias existing mental health services, public hospitals and emergency services.

Where can I find reliable on-line health information?
There are a range of sites providing reliable on-line mental health information, including the Better Health Channel. Established by the Victorian Government, it provides on-line health and medical information for the Victorian community that is quality assured, reliable, up-to-date and locally relevant.
What details will Mental Health Advice Line collect about me?
Basic demographic information such as full name, date of birth, street address and phone number, as well as current health status. All information provided remains confidential and medical records are fully secure. Callers may remain anonymous if they wish.

Mental Health Advice Line is delivered by Medibank Health Solutions, which also delivers NURSE-ON-CALL. It is recognised that some callers will previously have contacted NURSE-ON-CALL which is also funded by the Department of Health. Therefore, to ensure continuity of care, the mental health professionals will also have access to records of any previous calls to the NURSE-ON-CALL service. Callers will be advised via a pre-recorded message which will be heard before the call is answered by a mental health professional. The privacy policy is available from Medibank Health Solutions.

Will Mental Health Advice Line be able to write me a referral to a doctor or organise a priority appointment?
Mental Health Advice Line is not able to make appointments or write referrals. The mental health professional may recommend that you see a general practitioner (GP) or a mental health practitioner depending on your symptoms and will be able to give you details of your closest mental health team or general medical centre.
What happens if I need an interpreter to help me with my call?
Mental Health Advice Line provides access to interpreting services for callers not confident with English. In addition, the National Relay Service is available to assist callers who have difficulties with hearing or speech.
What if I am a teenager or an older person?
The Mental Health Advice Line is for all ages.
How do I know if my issues or problems are related to my mental health?
You dont need to know. When you explain your situation to the mental heath professional they will be able to decide whether your issues or problems might be related to your mental health.

For example, if you have a gambling problem or trouble relating to your feelings since the birth of your new baby, the mental health professional will be able to give you advice and can refer you to a relevant service if necessary.

Can I call if I just think I need to speak to someone or get some counselling?
The Mental Health Advice Line is not a telephone counselling service. It is like a door to Mental Health Services in Victoria. If the mental health professional thinks that you would benefit from speaking to someone face-to-face, they will give you the contact number of an appropriate service.
Can I call about a family member or friend?
Yes, you can. The mental health professional answering your call will advise you of the best steps to help you in supporting a friend or family member with a mental health concern.
I am already in contact with mental health services in my area. Can I still call Mental Health Advice Line?
This depends on the nature of your enquiry. The Mental Health Advice Line is an additional resource for you, should you need information and advice. However your treating doctor or service or case manager (if you have one) will still manage your mental health care.
What happens if I am unhappy with the service?
We value your feedback regarding the Mental Health Advice Line. If you wish to make any comment about the service, please call the Mental Health Advice Line on 1300 280 737.

If you are not satisfied with the response, you can make a complaint to the Health Services Commissioner on 1800 136 066 (toll free).