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How do triages work please?

Hi everyone, if anyone reads and replies to this (no pressure but I'd appreciate it and some advice please, it's fine if no one knows). Mods feel free to move this if it's not in the right place as I always say.


Anyway, I was just wondering how triages work please? My Psychiatrist referred me there, however when I exchanged phone calls with them through the 24/7 number (it was a 1300 number or something and everytime they answered they said "hello, mental health triage"), they were extremely rude and unhelpful and pushed me away.


I tried to explain to them that my Psychiatrist referred me there and asked them what they do and if they can help me or if not, tell me people who can. They refused. They basically said that "we don't know why your Psychiatrist referred you here, he's wasting his time and we're not going to help you and we refuse to", word for word. I called them about 5 or so times back and forth and every person was rude, not one spoke to me and helped. This is offputting and traumatic for me. I didn't know much about a triage anyway and I expected them to help but nope.


I told my Psychiatrist this and he's disgusted and said they should be helping me, and he said "they're a ridiculous service then" so I apologised to him for wasting his time and that I was upset because I don't know why they're like that.


He told me that all the triages he's worked with (he's in Sydney and I'm in Victoria) support people in support groups or similar things, just talking therapy I  guess, I don't know, I'm not sure really. So I thought oh okay, that should be good, perhaps a group session, nope.


So my question is, what should I do, should I complain saying they're refusing to help me and discriminating me? I don't want to try again because of how i've been treated and I've never even been there. Can someone please tell me what they're supposed to do? Any help is appreciated, thanks.


Also not trying to pressure anyone but if you haven't already (anyone is welcome), please check out my threads and comment if you like:


1. Is anyone around tonight? Depressed and suicidal 

2. @musicfanatic_x crib (anyone is welcome). 

3. Happy International Happiness Day (20/03/2020)! 

4. Looking for some coping strategies and self care tips please. 


Thanks all xx


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@Zoe7 @Ant7 @Maggie @Peacefulsky @Pippi29 @Faith-and-Hope 

@Snowie @Mazarita @Valentine @Jupiter @Sans911 @greenpea 

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Not applicable

Re: How do triages work please?

Sorry @musicfanatic_x  I have no experience whatsoever with MH triage, and am therefore of no assistance to you. 😀💜


Re: How do triages work please?

@musicfanatic_x  from my experience you cannot just ring them up and say my pdoc has told me to call you if you need help. The pdoc has to contact them to arrange it and then they will contact you re phone calls and visits. 


Re: How do triages work please?

Hi @musicfanatic_x 

I'm sorry you never got the help you needed. 
I've had the opposite to you each time I've phoned the triage at my local hospital. When I call I get nice people on the phone. They ask lots of questions like names of my doctor and psych. They ask what meds I'm on.  They listen. Once they rang my doctor and said he needs to give me some calmers. 

I don't know what you should do. I guess I would keep trying but if you still get no help then a complaint might need to happen. 

good luck. 


Re: How do triages work please?

Hi @Former-Member @greenpea , I believe my Psychiatrist did call them to get the contact details etc since I never gave them to him but I don't know. Mindspot did a referral for me there too which I told him, they rang them around Christmas time or before.


@Former-Member that's fine, sorry I asked, I just tag everyone I talk to here. It's no big deal really.


@BlueBay perhaps I could do that yeah, I don't know, it's just hurtful to me. At least you had a good experience though, thats nice to hear.


Re: How do triages work please?

The word triage in a modern heath context is to prioritise cases so the most urgent cases with possibly life threatening conditions get treated first. My experience is that the public mental system has such meagre resources that  these are kept for emergency mental health situations that put the public at risk. The only time I had assistance with triage was after being admitted to hospital in an ambulance. Even then their recources were stretched. They put me in the emergency department strapped to a gerney where I waited for 4 hours. 

I have waited in casualty for eight hours to be treated with a suicide ideation crisis. I saw people come and go with physical problems being carefully and quickly treated. When I asked for help I was told the the psych nurses had a heavy workload and that I would have to wait. 

I am relating this as it's important to consider these types of issues when your getting assistance developing a crisis plan for yourself. Many public hospitals just don't have the recources and proper triage process to safely deal with mental health crisis.


i developed a crisis plan with a psychologist that I was referered to from my GP.

These were some of the measures that I asked for after discussion with my family;

-Being locked in the house

-having all dangerous stuff removed 

-having prescription medication given under supervision. To calm me and maybe help me to sleep.

-Working to get enough safe space and time so I could see a medical professional as soon as possible. Usually my gp the next day.

- Creating some space and time to calm my condition so I could be safer.


These desperate measures more or less worked for me.

In desperation I got a private medical health insurance quote. The qualifation period that I had to wait for the insurance to be active was a tough two months. It cost less than I expected. It's been difficult budgeting for it but it's been a life saver for me.


Now when I have a crisis I speak to my Psychiatrist (Private) and can usually can get a voluntary mental health private hospital bed within 24 to 48 hours.


All this is not probably what you want to hear. I do know that people come to Melbourne Private hospitals from all over Victoria because mental health services can be substandard in regional areas. Areas people come from to be admitted to my Melbourne based hospital that I know of include;

Ballarat, Mildura, Albury, Warragul, Bairnsdale to name a few.


I am now on the disability support pension and have a significant NDIS support package. My financial situation is better. There is significant help available but it's a huge fight to get it.






Re: How do triages work please?

Honestly, your psychiatrist can be partially blamed in the context that it sounds like no prior research into the individual service was done before making the clinical decision to refer you to it. The fact he has experience with other mental health triage services equates to squat in reality, especially when they are interstate. 


Mental health triage is one of the more novel and nuance parts of the industry. That makes what he did even more rash and inadequately thought about in my opinion. There are 2 mental health triage services where I live, both are publicly run and funded, yet they are nothing alike whatsoever and their approaches couldn't be less similar if they tried to be. 


I have negative experiences with both, some of which reside from the same things, but overall are 2 different types of negative. One of them is the ACT (acute care team) who I wouldn't willingly go near, even if I had a 10 foot pole.


They are in charge of emergency psych exams, crisis assessments and the continued care team for very few enduring mental illnesses, and their main course of action is to only provide short term service, and hand you to your GP after that short time, even if what you are dealing with is far too complex for a GP. For the few conditions they treat long-term, all they offer is medication, mostly of the sedative deriviative. 


They are some of the most corrupt and morally deplorable people I have ever dealt with, and they play a massive role in why I am even ill to begin with. I am far from the only one with that experience. They will and do leave you barely skating on thin ice and all they really care about is their authority and power, if you are alive, even if barely, that is great to them and they refuse to take on any long term services with people like that because it is burdenous to them. 


The other one has only been around for the last 18 months, and they are the PHN (public health network) mental health service. The triage is responsible for deciding which level of care is required according to the severity, persistence and complexity of your mental health conditions and overall life. I'm going to assume your mental health issues are severe and complex, considering that is what the forums were designed for. 


In my area, that triage would put you at the highest level of care with a psychosocial service, and their team takes a much more long term, holistic, psychosocial and quality of life approach based on the individual. The cornerstone of their services is social groups and care coordination of your clinical services. They approach you as a person, not a problem or a diagnosis, and look at how every aspect of your life is impacted by your mental health and its complexities, and aim to help their clients find the ability to achieve and maintain improved quality of life and psychosocial wellbeing in despite of them. 


As you can tell, those are very different, and it is important to have professionals who don't just throw you around like a sack of potatoes throughout the system without doing proper research and having knowledge about potential service referrals because of that variation.


I wouldn't be inclined to remain with this psychiatrist if it was me, and any further contact would involve a conversation around that topic and the importance it has to me, even if that means I end up receiving no services as a result. 


So its not really a matter of how do triages work moreso than it is how does X individual triage service work, what approach does it adhere to, what are its objectives in the short, medium and long term, do they have the expertise to take on complex mental health and its associations, and the capacity to adhere to a recovery framework that is relevant to complex mental health, especially in the long term. It is also important, as much of a pain in the behind it can be to figure out, to know what you are looking for from the service in those same scenarios. 


That will give them less chance to push you away and treat you as too hard basket from a point of misunderstanding. You really do need to be a very good advocate for yourself, your needs and your life, and to be capable of showing how important and needed the service is to meeting them. I know for me, one of the things that is extremely off putting to services is my lack of capacity for "worthwhile clinical prognosis". It makes me be seen as a never ending burden, and those skills can help lessen that. 


Of course, there is no guarantee that everything will work, and it is equally important that you can look after yourself and help yourself cope in the case it doesn't. 


I sound like a hypocrite so that is where I will cease my advice on the matter. Apologies for my directness, but that's just the way I am. 



Re: How do triages work please?

Hello @musicfanatic_x  and other SANE Forum members who have jumped in to respond on this thread. Smiley Happy


This is a wonderful discussion providing lots of opportunity for people to talk about their negative and positive experiences with mental health triage. However, such dialogue needs to remain with our SANE Forums Community Guidelines. For this reason, I urge members to talk from their own experience of the mental health triaging system and not to be prescriptive around what someone should do. People need to make decisions for themselves around what services and professionals they reach out to - and continue to reach out to.


Additionally, please be mindful that you are not talking in absolute terms. Yes - reaching out to some professionals and services can range from being disappointing to incredibly traumatic. However, people and services are all different. You find both good and bad apples in the bunch. Smiley Happy


Finally, please be very cautious to not identify or defame specific professionals or services. This is important so we keep the SANE Forums a safe space for individuals with diverse kinds of experiences, as well as considerate of professionals and services.


Kindest Regards,



Re: How do triages work please?

Sorry @Amour_Et_Psyché you can delete the thread, i always seem to do something wrong, sigh.


Re: How do triages work please?

I went quickly and changed things on my post. I attempted to speak only of my experiences.



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