Distressed woman talking with a counsellor on phone

How will talking to a counsellor help me?

It’s a fact that just about all of us will struggle mentally or emotionally at some point in life and that almost everyone will go through tough patches. Whether it’s stress from work or raising a family, relationship difficulties or separation, grief or trauma, gambling or hitting the grog too hard, or recurring feelings of anxiety and depression, it is not at all uncommon for a significant part of the population to find themselves struggling.

In fact, one in five Australians experience a mental health disorder each year and one in two will do so during their lifetime.


How can counselling help?

NQ Connect is a free counselling service funded by the federal government. Its specific aim is to help people in northern, western and far northern Queensland who are concerned or are struggling with a wide range of issues related to their wellbeing and mental health. NQ Connect is staffed by professional counsellors (rather than by volunteers) who are trained to listen and help people develop ways to manage their worries.

For many callers, the reason for starting a phone counselling session has something to do with a current or former relationship. They might be feeling stressed, worried, or have trouble coping. Talking it out — universally recognised as an effective method of helping people understand and manage stresses and worries — will often improve their outlook, help them manage their stresses, and ultimately help them feel better.

Many other calls relate to feelings of depression, anxiety, loneliness or social isolation. Quite often, there are multiple underlying reasons to how they feel about their distressing situation. Again, talking it out with someone who is professionally trained can help.

Counselling can be very helpful for a wide range of concerns. In fact, here some of the most common reasons for why people contact NQ Connect:

  • Anger management
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Grief and loss
  • Isolation and loneliness
  • Relationship and family problems
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Wellbeing
  • Work stress


Free online counselling

Did you know that NQ Connect also provides free online counselling? As with phone counselling, people initiating mental health web chat do so to discuss a range of concerns.

Whereas crisis lines and phone counselling helplines have for decades been recognised for their accessibility and effectiveness, online chat with a mental health counsellor is a relatively recent development.

Its popularity is growing for many reasons. For one thing, it’s a natural option for users (often, but hardly always, younger people) from a generation who happen to spend more time online than on ‘traditional’ phone lines. There is also growing recognition of the fact that a considerable number of people feel uneasy (or simply prefer not to engage in) phone conversation. For example, many people with pronounced social anxiety often report that they prefer chatting online than over the phone.


Mental health support just for northern Queensland

As mentioned, the NQ Connect service is funded specifically to help people across northern, western and far northern Queensland.

One reason for this relates back to lower access levels to mental health services. Quite simply, it is a recognised fact that there are fewer mental health services in rural and regional Australia. It’s also recognised that driving two hours each way to chat to a counsellor may not be practical.

This is why when you contact NQ Connect, you will always speak to a professionally qualified counsellor, rather than a volunteer. In fact, depending on your circumstances, you may even be eligible for a referral (you can check out our northern Queensland support service finder, although please note that you need to register).

Even when face-to-face counselling is available, some people may have concerns about privacy and discretion. NQ Connect provides a safe and private alternative to discussing your concerns and worries — no one has to see that you’ve visited the local relationship counsellor or psychologist, because what you talk about with an NQ Connect counsellor over the phone, from the privacy of your home, is your business.

NQ Connect also provides specialist support to people experiencing some of the conditions and challenges unique to northern Queensland. Specialist support is available for the following.


NQ Connect: Operation Compass

  • Mental health support for veterans and members of the Defence community based in the Townsville region. Support is extended to current and former ADF members as well as their families.


Flood support

  • Mental health support for people affected by the 2019 northern Queensland floods. Support includes resources for the community as well as for health professionals.


Need help? You can find support services in northern Queensland or complete a self-administered K10 test for depression and anxiety. You can also join the online mental health forum to talk with like-minded people.