Getting a Mental Health Plan is an important step towards affordable mental health. It’s the stepping stone that connects Australians with professional, licenced psychologists at an affordable rate.
Our mental wellbeing plays a huge role in our lives: whether you’re going through a big life change or simply managing daily stresses, it can affect us all.
In fact, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimates that over 2 in 5 Australians aged 16-85 will experience mental health issues in their lifetime. As more and more people put their mental health first, the need for affordable and effective mental health services grows too.
Online therapy is a great option for Australians looking to prioritise their mental health and may be recommended in a Mental Health Plan as a strategy for recovery.
Read on to discover how to get a mental health plan, unlock affordable online psychology services and achieve your mental health goals.
What is a Mental Health Plan?
As the name suggests, a Mental Health Plan provides a roadmap for better mental health. They are collaboratively prepared by you and your general practitioner (GP) and are the gateway to accessing subsidised mental health services in Australia through Medicare rebates.
Mental Health Plans outline treatment methods, strategies and goals to improve mental health concerns, and are tailored to each individual and their unique needs. If your Mental Health Plan recommends you see a mental health professional and your GP gives you a referral letter, then you will be eligible for reduced-cost therapy sessions.
Is a mental health care plan the same as a mental health treatment plan?
Over the years, the terminology for a Mental Health Plan has changed. You may come across different phrases including ‘mental health care plan’ (MHCP) or ‘mental health treatment plan’ (MHTP). They are often used interchangeably but rest assured, they all refer to the same thing – a treatment plan for your mental health. Here at My Mirror, we simply call it a Mental Health Plan.
Medicare rebates for psychology services
Mental health plans have two main purposes: providing a clear pathway for mental health treatment and recovery, while facilitating access to Medicare rebates.
Mental health services like online therapy are made even more accessible with a Mental Health Plan because it allows your therapy sessions to be subsidised. When you have a GP referral letter, a Mental Health Plan and a Medicare card, a portion of the online psychology service fees will be reimbursed through Medicare rebates.
Eligible clients can receive up to 10 reduced-cost therapy sessions per calendar year, meaning you only have the pay the gap fee. For registered psychologists, the Medicare rebate is $92.90 per session, and for clinical psychologist the Medicare rebate is $136.35 per session.
My Mirror aims to provide accessible psychology services to all Australians, and that’s why we’re committed to providing a percentage of our sessions bulk billed to those who experience financial hardship or meet certain eligibility criteria. This scheme allows the full cost of the psychology service to be reimbursed through Medicare, leaving the client with zero out-of-pocket expenses.
Remember, even if you are eligible to receive bulk-billed psychology sessions, you must have a Mental Health Plan and referral letter to receive the service.
How to get a Mental Health Plan in Australia
Step 1. Book a longer GP appointment
To get a Mental Health Plan, you’ll need to visit your GP or healthcare professional for a mental health assessment appointment.
We recommend requesting a longer appointment time for your mental health plan assessment so that you can speak with your doctor without feeling rushed. Your doctor needs at least 20 minutes to appropriately assess your mental health issues and formulate the best solution for your mental health issues.
Anyone is eligible for a Mental Health Plan as long as they have a mental disorder diagnosed by their healthcare provider. That’s why most clients go to their GP for a diagnosis and create their Mental Health Plan at the same time in a double session.
Step 2. Mental Health Plan assessment
During your assessment, your GP or psychiatrist will carefully evaluate your mental health condition to see whether a mental health plan is necessary.
Many GPs use the K10 to assess this. It’s a framework that assesses psychological distress on a scale of 10 to 50. You can view a K10 assessment example before your appointment to get a better understanding of the types of questions you may be asked.
Step 3. Create your Mental Health Plan
Your Mental Health Plan assessment may consider:
- The severity of symptoms – what challenges do you face and how do they impact your daily life?
- Your medical history – do you have any previous diagnoses or past treatments?
- What do you want to achieve – how do you want your issues to improve? What goals or targets do you want to reach?
- Treatment methods – is there a specific technique you want to try such as behavioural therapy? What treatment type is going to be effective for you?
Your Mental Health Plan is personalised and unique. That’s why your input is very valuable during your GP assessment. Be honest and open during your consultation so that your doctor can fully understand the challenges and symptoms you face.
Step 4. Choose a psychologist for your referral letter
If you are considering online therapy as a solution for your mental health concerns, be sure to raise this with your GP in your appointment. You can add My Mirror to your referral letter if you're planning to try online therapy with us. This means your GP can send any relevant documents or Medicare information directly to My Mirror for you.
Don’t worry – you don’t need to know a psychologist off the top of your head to get a Mental Health Plan. You can find your preferred psychologist in your own time after your appointment. If you change your mind you don’t have to stick with the psychologist that’s written on your referral letter.
Don’t know where to find the right psychologist? Use our matching tool to be paired with the right psychologist for you and your goals.
What is a referral letter?
Your mental health plan will come with a referral letter from your GP or healthcare professional. Referral letters can recommend a maximum of 6 psychology sessions for each client. Once those 6 sessions have been held, you’ll need to go back to your GP for a review. If your GP agrees that you’d benefit from more psychology sessions, they’ll be able to refer you for 4 more sessions. This makes up a total of 10 Medicare rebated psychology sessions per calendar year.
Getting a mental health plan online
If you’d prefer not to travel to your GP for an appointment, or you want to avoid long wait times, you can get a mental health plan online. Platforms like InstantScripts work by connecting clients with registered online doctors who can make medical assessments and mental health plans.
This works the same way as an in-person appointment. Your online doctor will give you an assessment to see whether you need a Mental Health Plan, and from there you‘ll be able to access psychology services and receive Medicare rebates.
What should you do once you have your Medicare documents ready?
Once you have your Medicare card, Mental Health Plan and referral letter, you’re ready to receive professional, subsidised mental health care.
For face-to-face therapy sessions you’ll need to bring all your documents with you to your psychologist's office.
For online psychology services with My Mirror:
You’ll be prompted to enter your Medicare details and upload your referral letter and Mental Health Plan when you create your My Mirror account. Once they’ve been added, you can view them in your account at any time.
If you don’t have all your details to hand when you’re creating your account, you’ll be able to add them later by clicking on the ‘Medicare rebates’ tab in your profile.
Other Mental Health Plans
There are other types of mental health plans that cater to more specific issues, like individuals that have more complex or co-existing medical conditions.
For example, an eating disorder plan helps clients manage their goals and treatments for the next 12 months and can offer up to 40 psychological treatment services.
Another example is a chronic disease management plan, which is for those who present with medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes or cancer for at least six months. It sets out a path to improve quality of life and minimise on going symptoms.
If you’re not sure which mental health plan best fits your circumstance, it’s always best to seek professional advice so you can get the most appropriate treatment plan.
Mental health issues deserve our attention and care, and the right Mental Health Plan can help you do just that. They give you access to online psychology services at subsidised rates, and most importantly help you get your mental wellbeing back on track.
If you’re looking for convenient and effective care, online therapy with can be a great treatment solution. With My Mirror you can take your sessions from the comfort of your own home, clearly track your progresses over time, and match with the best psychologist for your needs.
Get your Mental Health Plan online through InstantScripts, or book an appointment with your GP or healthcare professional and unlock a healthier, happier life.