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Psychiatrists diagnose, assess, treat and prevent mental, emotional and behavioural disorders. Psychiatrists treat mental illness which encompasses conditions such as anxiety disorders, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, substance abuse and personality disorders. Future Growth Static

Psychiatry uses all aspects of the biopsychosocial model and as such focuses
holistically on the patient's body and mind. It is an important speciality with approximately one in five Australians suffering from a mental disorder.

ANZSCO ID & description: 2534: Diagnoses, assesses, treats and prevents human mental, emotional and behavioural disorders. Registration or licensing is required.

Alternative names: Psychotherapist (Medical)

Specialisations: With patient

  • Adolescent Psychiatrist,

  • Alcohol and drug consultation,

  • Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist,

  • Child and adolescent psychiatry,

  • Child Psychiatrist,

  • Forensic Psychiatrist,

  • Forensic psychiatry (legal and criminal cases) or Psychotherapy,

  • Geriatric Psychiatrist,

  • Medical Psychotherapist,

  • Psychiatry of old age,

  • Psychoanalysis (social and cultural psychiatry)

Knowledge, skills and attributes

A psychiatrist needs:

  • a high level of understanding of mental, emotional, and behavioural states and disorders, including knowledge of symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions and preventative health measures

  • to be able to counsel patients, including knowledge of principles, methods and procedures of mental dysfunctions

  • knowledge of human behaviour and performance

  • superior analytical, evaluation and critical thinking skills

  • advanced communication and interpersonal skills

  • deductive and inductive reasoning skills

  • to be able to effectively collaborate with physicians, psychologists, social workers, psychiatric nurses, or other professionals

  • social perceptiveness

  • to be patient, caring, sensitive and empathetic towards patients and their families

  • to be able to develop long term relationships with patients

  • integrity especially when dealing with highly personal issues

  • self control and attentiveness

mental health sign

Duties and Tasks

As a psychiatrist, you would:

  • examine and assess the patient in order to make a diagnosis

  • ask patients about their thoughts

  • record the patient's medical information and history

  • carry out psychiatric tests

  • prescribe medications

  • recommend appropriate courses of treatment or therapies

  • give practical advice about lifestyle and behaviours

  • admit people to hospital

  • work as part of a multidisciplinary team alongside GP’s, doctors, nurses, social workers, education professionals, health visitors, and psychologists

  • keep accurate patient records.


Working conditions

Psychiatrists generally practice according to personal preference and area of subspecialisation. Most work in private and public clinics or hospitals. Emergencies are few and on-call work tends to be. Work can be performed on an individual level or as a multidisciplinary team.

Although psychiatry work is considered a privilege and source of great satisfaction, at times it can be emotionally draining and stressful.

Tools and Technology

Psychiatrists need to be familiar with advances in neuropsychiatry and psychobiology including atypical antipsychotics to procedures such as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation.
Electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) is a tool used by psychiatrists.

Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a psychiatrist, you must first become a qualified medical practitioner and then specialise in psychiatry.

These degrees usually take four years to complete. Entry requirements include completion of a bachelor degree in any discipline. You must also sit the Graduate Australian Medical Schools Admissions Test (GAMSAT) and attend an interview at your chosen institution. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

On completion of the postgraduate medical degree, you must work in the public hospital system for two years (internship and residency). To specialise in psychiatry, doctors can apply to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists to undertake further training and ultimately receive fellowship.

Employment Opportunities

Employment of psychiatrists is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations.

Job growth will occur because of the continued expansion of healthcare-related industries. The growing and aging population is expected to drive overall growth in the demand for medical services as consumers continue to seek and need higher levels of care. The demand for psychiatrists is somewhat limited by the number of places available in medical degrees at universities.

Did You Know?

Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue reports:

Around one in 35 young Australians aged 4-17 experience a depressive disorder.

Breakdown: 2.8% of Australians aged 4-17 have experienced an affective disorder.*
This is equivalent to 112,000 young people.

One in seven young Australians experience a mental health condition.
Breakdown: 13.9% children and adolescents aged 4-17 years experienced a mental disorder between 2013-14, which is equivalent to an estimated 560,000 Australian children and adolescents.

One in fourteen young Australians (6.9%) aged 4-17 experienced an anxiety disorder in 2015.
This is equivalent to approximately 278,000 young people.
Breakdown: 6.9% of Australians aged 4-17 experienced an anxiety disorder in 2015.
This is equivalent to 278,000 young people.

The number of deaths by suicide in young Australians is the highest it has been in 10 years
Breakdown: In 2015, 391 (12.5 per 100,000) young Australians aged 15-24 died by suicide compared with 290 (10.4 per 100,000) young Australians in 2005.

Suicide is the biggest killer of young Australians and accounts for the deaths of more young people than car accidents
Breakdown: 324 Australians (10.5 per 100,000) aged 15-24 dying by suicide in 2012.
This compares to 198 (6.4 per 100,000) who died in car accidents (the second highest killer).

Evidence suggests three in four adult mental health conditions emerge by age 24 and half by age 14
Breakdown: Half of all lifetime cases of mental health disorders start by age 14 years and three fourths by age 24 years.

People experiencing mental health conditions generally report more experiences of being treated positively than of being avoided or discriminated against, particularly from friends, loved ones and family members.

Racism has can have really negative effects on young people’s health, education and social life and these effects can be carried for many years into adulthood.

Around one in three young Australian adults aged 18-24 years report experiencing racial discrimination because of their skin colour, ethnic origin or religion.

Around one in four Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people aged 15–24 years report experiencing discrimination because they were of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin.

Approximately one in four people with type 2 diabetes experience depression and one in six with type 2 diabetes experience anxiety.

Approximately one in four young people aged 13-19 years with Type 1 Diabetes experience moderate to severe symptoms of depression and anxiety.
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