Get the Best Support for Your Mental Health with a Care Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide

Need Help Finding the Right Psychologist for You?

Mental health is an important aspect of overall well-being, yet it is often neglected or overlooked. Many people struggle with mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, or other mental disorders, but they may not know where to turn for support. That’s where a mental health care plan comes in. In this article, we will discuss what a mental health care plan is, how to obtain one, the support you can receive through it, and how you can have better access to mental health care. 

What is a Mental Health Care Plan?

A Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP) is a support plan developed by your GP or psychiatrist that outlines your treatment needs and goals for managing your mental health. This comprehensive guide is developed by a general practitioner or a psychiatrist to help individuals manage their mental health. It is designed to provide patients with a structured and tailored approach to address their specific mental health concerns.  

How to Get a Mental Health Care Plan

To obtain a mental health care plan, you will need to make an appointment with your doctor. During the appointment with your GP, you should explain your mental health needs and why you believe a MHCP would be beneficial for you. The Doctor will then assess your condition and decide if a care plan is appropriate. You will need a referral from your GP to see a psychologist under a MHCP. 

How to use a mental health care plan with Medicare

If you have a mental health care plan, you may be eligible for a Medicare rebate for psychological treatment sessions. To claim the rebate, you will need to find a psychologist, who is registered with Medicare and has a provider number for the location, where you are having your sessions. The rebate will cover a portion of the psychologist’s fees, reducing your out-of-pocket expenses.

Alternatives to a mental health care plan

While a mental health care plan is a popular and effective option for accessing mental health services, it is not the only option available. Some people may choose to seek support from a mental health professional without a plan, paying the entire fee out of pocket, while others may prefer to use private health insurance to cover a portion of the cost of their sessions.

What Financial Support Can I Get?

Claiming Medicare Rebate 

If you have a mental health care plan, you can claim a rebate for your psychology sessions through Medicare. The rebate amount will depend on whether you are seeing a Clinical or General Psychologist. You can usually claim the rebate at the time of your appointment, reducing the amount you need to pay out-of-pocket.

How can health insurance help?

Private health insurance can also provide support for mental health services. Depending on your policy, you may be able to claim a portion of the cost of your sessions with a psychologist through your insurance. This can help reduce your out-of-pocket expenses and make accessing necessary support more affordable.

How Do I Get a GP Mental Health Care Plan?

How long does a mental health plan last?

If you have a mental health care plan, you can claim a rebate for your psychology sessions through Medicare. The rebate amount will depend on whether you are seeing a Clinical or General Psychologist. You can usually claim the rebate at the time of your appointment, reducing the amount you need to pay out-of-pocket. A care plan is necessary. With a mental health plan, you can have up to 10 sessions with a psychologist in a calendar year.

When will you be able to see a psychologist?

Once you have a mental health care plan, you will be able to schedule appointments with a psychologist of your choice. The number of sessions you can have per year will depend on your specific care plan and the recommendations made by your GP. It is important to keep track of your sessions to ensure you are utilising your allocated sessions effectively.

How Is a MHCP Different From a GP Referral?

Will the GP select a psychologist for me or can I choose one afterwards?

With a mental health care plan, the GP will provide you with a referral to a psychologist. However, you have the freedom to choose the psychologist that best suits your needs. It is important to find a psychologist who specialises in your specific requirements and with whom you feel comfortable working.

How can I see how many sessions I have remaining?

To see how many sessions, you have remaining on your mental health care plan, you can check with your GP or psychologist. They will be able to provide you with the necessary information and help you manage your sessions effectively. 

Accessing Medicare Rebates and the Better Access Initiative

The cost of your sessions with a mental health care plan will depend on the psychologist or allied health professional you see. Some providers bulk-bill, meaning they charge the Medicare rebate as their fee. Others may charge a gap fee, which you may need to pay out of pocket.

If you have a mental health care plan, you can claim a rebate through Medicare for your psychology sessions. The rebate amount will depend on the length of your session and the psychologist’s fees. It is important to note that the rebate may not cover the entire cost of the session, resulting in out-of-pocket expenses.

To access Medicare rebates for your sessions, you need to have a valid mental health care plan from your GP or psychiatrist. After each session, your psychologist will provide you with an invoice that you can use to claim the Medicare rebate.

 The Better Access Initiative is a program funded by the Australian government that aims to improve access to mental health services. It provides Medicare rebates for up to 10 sessions per calendar year for people with diagnosed mental health disorders.

You can claim the Medicare rebate for all of your sessions as long as you have a valid mental health care plan and the sessions are provided by a registered psychologist.

You can use your private health insurance ancillary cover to help cover the cost of your therapy sessions. However, it’s important to check with your insurance provider to understand the specific coverage and any limitations.

Who is Eligible for a Mental Health Treatment Plan?

The Cost of Getting a MHCP

Obtaining a mental health care plan is usually covered by Medicare and some GPs may charge you additional costs. However, it is important to discuss any potential fees or charges with your GP before scheduling an appointment.

Health Care Card and Medicare Coverage for Psychologist Sessions

With a mental health care plan, Medicare will provide rebates for a specific number of psychology sessions per calendar year. The number of sessions covered will depend on the recommendations made by your GP and the specific details of your care plan.

Having a Health Care Card may make you eligible for a mental health care plan. Your GP will take into account your financial circumstances and make a decision based on your individual situation.

Will The GP Select A Psychologist for Me or Can I Choose One Afterwards?

While the GP will provide you with a referral to a psychologist, you have the freedom to choose the psychologist you want to work with. It is important to find a psychologist who specialises in your specific mental health concerns and with whom you feel comfortable sharing your experiences and seeking support.

How Long Does A MHCP Last?

Validity and Expiry of MHCPs

A mental health care plan is typically valid for 12 months from the date it is created. This means you have 12 months to use the plan to access the recommended services and treatments. After the 12-month period, you will need to discuss with your GP whether a new care plan is necessary.

When to Get a New MHCP

If your mental health condition requires ongoing treatment and support beyond the initial 12-month period, you will need to discuss with your GP the possibility of obtaining a new mental health care plan. It is important to regularly review your plan to ensure it is meeting your needs and providing you with the appropriate support.

What Happens If I Got One Last Year but Didn’t Go See a Psychologist? Do They Expire?

If you obtained a mental health care plan in the past but did not utilize the allocated sessions, the plan may have expired. In such cases, you will need to discuss with your GP the possibility of obtaining a new care plan to continue accessing the necessary support.

When Do I Need to Get a New MHCP?

You will need to get a new mental health care plan when your current plan expires or when you require ongoing support for your mental health condition. Discussing your needs with your GP will help determine when it is appropriate to obtain a new care plan.

How Can I See How Many Sessions I Have Remaining?

To see how many sessions you have remaining on your plan, you can either check with your GP or psychologist. They will have the necessary information and can help you keep track of your sessions to ensure you are utilising your allocated sessions effectively.

I Need Support Right Now

If you are in need of immediate support for your mental health, it is important to reach out to a mental health professional as soon as possible. You can contact your local GP, mental health hotline, or a mental health organisation in your area for assistance.

Need Help Finding The Right Psychologist For You?

Choosing the right psychologist can greatly impact your mental health journey. If you need assistance finding a psychologist who specialises in your specific mental health concerns, you can reach out to your GP or mental health organisation in your area. They can provide you with recommendations and help you find the best-fit professional for your needs.

Additional Resources

Comprehensive Guide to GP Mental Health Treatment Medicare Items:
https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/pacd-gp-mental-health-care-pdf-qa 

Better Access to Mental Health Care-Medicare Funded Services:
https://psychology.org.au/psychology/medicare-rebates-psychological-services/medicare-faqs-for-the-public