If you are struggling with mental health issues, there is help available, and your sessions with a psychologist or counsellor attract a rebate from Medicare.
What is a Mental Health Treatment Plan and Why is it Important?
A mental health treatment plan, or mental health care plan, is a plan created by a doctor for a person with mental health issues. It identifies what type of health care you need, and your mental health goals, as agreed by you and your doctor.1 It will also list support services available.2
A mental health treatment plan is a treatment plan that enables patients to gain better access to psychologists, psychiatrists and GPs through the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS).5
Who is Eligible for a Mental Health Treatment Plan?
Anyone who has a mental health condition that has been diagnosed by a doctor, can receive a mental health treatment plan.
How do You Get a Mental Health Treatment Plan?
If you have concerns about your mental health, the first step is to visit your GP. The doctor will assess whether you have a mental health condition and if you will benefit from a mental health treatment plan. When you make the appointment with your GP, ask if a long appointment is needed.3
How Many Sessions Can You be Eligible For?
A mental health treatment plan allows you to claim up to 20 sessions with a mental health professional every calendar year. This can be a psychologist, counsellor, social worker or occupational therapist.2 At first, the referral will cover up to 6 sessions, and then you will need to see your GP again for a review and another referral if more sessions are needed.2
This increase from 10 to 20 individual sessions with psychologists and other mental health professionals, to be supported by Medicare each calendar year, was a recent announcement from the Federal Government.2 The Medicare support is applicable from 9 October 2020 to 30 June 2022 for in-person appointments and to 31 March 2021 for telehealth or phone appointments.6
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Seeing a Psychologist or Other Mental Health Professional
If your doctor recommends that you see a psychologist or counsellor, you may choose one yourself or the doctor may suggest someone.4 The good news is that you can see a psychologist or counsellor in person or via telehealth. Bookings for either of these options can be done through HealthEngine:
Help With Costs
Medicare may cover some or all of the cost of your appointments with a psychologist or counsellor, depending on the fees set by that particular health professional. When you make your appointment you can ask how much you will pay and how much you will get back from Medicare. If they bulk bill then you won’t have to pay anything. If you have private health insurance then you may get some money back from them.2
Rural, Remote and COVID-19-related Support
It can be difficult to get to a mental health professional if you live in a rural or remote area. You may be able to have a telehealth video or phone consultation with a psychologist, counsellor, social worker or occupational therapist, instead of a face-to-face consultation, and you can claim this from Medicare.
The additional 10 MBS mental health sessions are a Better Access Pandemic Support measure from the government, which is designed to provide assistance to people experiencing severe or enduring mental health impacts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.6
In an Emergency
If you are in crisis and need support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. They offer a phone counselling service and are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
There is also useful information for kids, teenagers, young adults and parents on the kids helpline website: https://kidshelpline.com.au/ or on 1800 55 1800.
- 1. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/mental-health-care-plan
- 2. https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/subjects/whats-covered-medicare/mental-health-care-and-medicare
- 3. https://healthengine.com.au/info/anxiety-and-depression-you-re-not-alone
- 4. https://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/mental-health-plan/9033278
- 5. https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/mental-ba-gpsamp
- 6. http://www.mbsonline.gov.au/internet/mbsonline/publishing.nsf/Content/Factsheet-10MentalHealthSessions