What is a MHCP (aka MHTP)?
A Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP) is a mental health support and treatment plan written by a referring practitioner such as a General Practitioner (GP), psychiatrist or paediatrician.
Sometimes called a Mental Health Treatment Plan (MHTP), a MHCP is usually accompanied by a referral and allows Australian residents who hold a valid Medicare card to access crucial treatment for mental health concerns at a more affordable rate.
Mental Health Treatment items such as MHCPs are listed as part of Australia's Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS), which includes all Medicare services subsidised by the Australian Government.
What are the benefits of getting a MHCP?
Other than providing your psychologist with a short assessment of your mental health concerns and needs before your first session with them, there is one other significant benefit of having a MHCP.
If your GP, or other eligible referring practitioner, deems it appropriate to write you a MHCP for your concerns, you will be eligible to access up to 20 Medicare subsidised (or in some cases, free) psychology sessions per calendar year.
Before COVID-19, this number of subsidised psychology sessions was limited to 10 per calendar year. However, from October 9, 2020, the Australian government increased this number to 20 Medicare subsidised psychology sessions per calendar year. The additional 10 sessions under a Medicare mental health treatment plan have since been extended to December 2022. Those using telehealth or phone psychology services are eligible for these benefits.
The MBS mental health sessions were doubled during COVID-19 as part of the government's Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners through the MBS (Better Access) initiative to support Australians during this difficult time.
Are you eligible for a MHCP?
Mental Health Care Plans are typically available to anyone who feels they would benefit from psychological support for mental health concerns.
So, if you have concerns about your mental health, and you’ve noticed that you’ve been feeling, thinking or behaving differently (and that this is interrupting your life in an unhelpful or harmful way), speak to your GP about getting a MHCP and a referral to speak to a psychologist.
Please note: Speaking to a psychologist is not only for those with a diagnosed mental health condition, or those with a MHCP. You don’t need a MHCP or a referral to speak to a psychologist. You do, however, require a MHCP and a referral to access the Medicare subsidised rates for psychology services or bulk billed psychology services.
How do you get a MHCP?
Your GP, or another eligible referring practitioner such as a psychiatrist or paediatrician, will conduct a short standardised assessment of your mental health before they determine whether or not you are eligible for a MHCP. This will take around 20 minutes.
If your practitioner determines you have a diagnosable mental health condition, and/or determines you would benefit from a psychologist’s structured approach to treating your mental health concerns, they will likely provide you with a MHCP.
A MHCP will be accompanied by a referral from your practitioner to speak to a psychologist. Your psychologist will need to view both documents before they can subsidise the cost of your sessions or provide their services bulk-billed (if they offer this).
After you have completed your first 10 subsidised sessions, your psychologist should discuss with you whether or not they think you would benefit from further psychological treatment on a treatment plan.
If they suggest carrying on with your therapy sessions, you will need to visit your GP or referring practitioner for a Mental Health Care Plan review. As part of this review, your GP will review your MHCP, progress and treatment to date, and assess your mental health concerns again.
If they think it appropriate, and determine you would benefit from more sessions with your psychologist, they will extend your MHCP and you will be eligible to access the remaining 10 subsidised sessions (as part of the 20 Medicare subsidised MHCP sessions per calendar year).
How long does it take to get a MHCP?
It usually takes around 20 minutes with your GP for them to assess your mental health concerns and then write up a MHCP. So, don’t book a 15-minute appointment with your GP and mention that you’d like a MHCP at the end of the appointment.
You should book a longer appointment with your GP for a MHCP for a few reasons:
- Legally, your GP needs to complete a 20-minute appointment to approve and write up a MHCP, and
- Your mental health is important, and it deserves the right amount of time for your GP to properly assess your mental health properly
Will Medicare cover the full cost of my psychology sessions?
Medicare rebates for individuals with a MHCP do not necessarily cover the entire cost of seeing a psychologist. There may be an out-of-pocket cost even after you receive a rebate from Medicare. This is the case for various items listed on the MBS.
However, some psychologists may offer bulk billed psychology services which would cover the full cost of your psychology session.
Psychologists will usually either offer bulk-billed sessions to all patients with a Mental Health Care Plan or those with a Mental Health Care Plan and financial hardship. Read more about this below.
What is bulk-billing?
If a health professional bulk bills their service, you are not required to pay any ‘out-of-pocket expenses’.
Australia's Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) outlines services that the government is willing to fully or partially pay health professionals for. With bulk billing, your health professional chooses to accept what the government is willing to pay for that service, instead of charging you their own rate.
For example, if your psychologist chooses to accept the bulk billing fee that the government is willing to pay for a standard 50-minute session with a Registered Psychologist, you will not be charged for their health service. Medical professionals claim these fees back through Medicare.
The same goes for GPs, psychiatrists, physiotherapists, pathology and many other specialists or practitioners.
Are you eligible for bulk-billed services?
You may be eligible for bulk billed medical services if:
- You have a Medicare card (after enrolling in Medicare), and/or
- You have a concession or health care card
- Your health professional agrees to bulk bill their service
My Mirror provides a portion of sessions bulk-billed via application here.
What is a gap payment?
If your health professional charges a rate above what the government is willing to pay for their service, you will pay the gap payment. My Mirror supports medicare rebates to reduce the gap fee per session, please see details on our pricing page.
Still confused by the details?
Understanding the ins and outs of Medicare rebates and bulk billing is not easy. If you find yourself wanting more information, watch this video by Hot on Health.
My Mirror makes MHCP processing easier
At My Mirror, we have designed our online system such that your GP can easily sign-up to our safe and secure online platform and enter your MHCP and referral details ready for your chosen psychologist to view before your first session. Alternatively, you can upload your MHCP directly to your My Mirror account.
These documents are then easily accessible for your My Mirror psychologist before your first therapy session. If you have a paper referral you can upload this onto our system. In every scenario, we have a solution to help you access convenient online therapy.
If you need any assistance please feel free to reach out to our team at email@example.com and we will help you connect with a GP.
Can I access My Mirror online psychology services for a subsidised rate?
If you have a Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP) you can access our online psychology sessions for reduced prices. Please see details on our pricing page.
If you are suffering from financial hardship you may be eligible for bulk billing with My Mirror and can apply via our quick form. An MHCP is required to access rebated or bulk-billed sessions.
You can still access our My Mirror psychologists privately, without a MHCP. At My Mirror we offer private fees below the recommended fee by the Australian Psychological Society (which is $260 per session). If you have private insurance you may also be able to claim your sessions - contact your provider to understand their coverage.
For more information on pricing please see our pricing page.