Many of us face times in our lives where we have “too many apples in the basket” and the basket topples over and spills the apples. If you are feeling overwhelmed, like you just can’t cope, there IS extra support available. Professional support, that is rebated by medicare. The first step is to go to your GP to prepare a “mental health treatment plan”. This will entitle you to medicare rebates for counselling by a psychologist. It does NOT mean that you have depression. You may just need a little extra help to get you through the day-to-day struggles of life, and a psychologist can provide great strategies to help you with that.
Here is a step-by-step guide to follow if you think this approach could be useful to you:
Step 1 – Visit your GP
Prepare a “GP Mental Health Treatment Plan (GPMHTP)” – medicare item #2717. A GP is allowed to prepare one per year for you. It entitles you to get 6 sessions of professional support in one calendar year. You need to book a “long” appointment because the GP needs to ask you a series of questions and the whole process takes about 40 minutes.
A Mental Health Treatment Plan initially gives you six rebatable sessions per calendar year. That means six sessions from 1st January – 31st December. If your first session happens next week, for example, you can have six sessions until the end of the year. On 1st January, you’ll be eligible for six more rebatable sessions for all of that year.
Step 2 – Find a psychologist
Find a psychologist – your GP can make a recommendation. It is important to find someone who is a good “fit” for you. If you don’t feel like you “gel”, then try someone else. For you to claim your medicare rebate, the psychologist must hold General Registration with the Psychology Board of Australia.
Medicare will rebate you $124.50 for a 50+ minute session (or $84.80 for 30-50 minutes) with a psychologist on a mental health treatment plan. If the actual cost for a session is greater than this, you’ll have to pay the difference. For example, if your psychologist charges $150 per hour, you’ll be paying $25.50 out of your own pocket.
Step 3 – Six sessions not enough? Go back to the GP and ask for four more.
After you have been to your psychologist 6 times, if you still want further support you are eligible to an additional 4 sessions within the same year. Ask for medicare item #2712 – “Review a Mental Health Treatment Plan”. Further sessions after this within 12 months will get some rebate from your Private Health Insurer.
Here is an excellent video from Lisa Corduff of her own personal experience, when she took the step to go to her GP and get a Mental Health Treatment Plan. This will likely resonate with many busy Mums.
For more information about supporting your Mental Health, here are some other great resources:
Black Dog Institute
The Black Dog Institute is a translational research institute that aims to reduce the incidence of mental illness and the stigma around it, to actively reduce suicide rates and empower everyone to live the most mentally healthy lives possible. They provide information webinars, blogs, support groups and recommendations of Apps (there will be more from Family Health Hub about Apps in a future blog).
Beyond Blue provides information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health
R U OK?
A first-step website for finding further resources to deal with mental health issues.
Provides links to a variety of support services.
Employee Assistance Program
Some workplaces have programs set up for their employees. For example, three free counselling sessions per year. Have a check at your workplace, ask your HR department.
The information provided in this blog is intended as a general educational aid. It should not replace advice given by a qualified healthcare provider in relation to your own unique circumstances and those of your family. Always consult your doctor regarding medical or mental health concerns that you or your family may have.