We answer all the questions you might have about Mental Health Treatment Plans and how to access Medicare rebates for your psychology sessions
We will all experience emotional issues at some point in our life, and in any year one in five (20%) of Australians aged 16-85 will experience mental illness.
We can’t always deal with issues on our own and might decide we need professional support. Seeking help for your mental health can be life-changing, but people often worry about the cost and can also get confused about how to access support.
Psychology sessions don't have to be expensive. Did you know that if you have any mental health concerns then you might be eligible for a Mental Health Treatment Plan (MHTP)? Accessing an MHTP is the first step to unlocking Medicare rebates for your psychology sessions. In some circumstances, you might be able to get up to 20 rebated psychology sessions per calendar year.
The process of accessing rebates is simpler than it sounds but there are a few key elements to be aware of. We'll help you to break down the steps to access your MHTP, unlock your Medicare rebates and get you to access the help you deserve
The first step to getting a Mental Health Treatment Plan is to book an appointment with your doctor (often called a mental health assessment), who will help to assess what you need.
During the appointment they might ask some personal questions to help better understand your situation, things as any history of mental illness, any recent or historical life challenges, family history of mental health, alcohol or drug use, coping strategies you use and thoughts of suicide. They may even ask you to complete a short questionnaire (usually something called a K10) which helps them see the level of emotional distress you are experiencing.
Once your doctor has explored what is happening for you they might provide a diagnosis and make recommendations for seeking help – this is called a treatment plan. It might include things like medication, lifestyle changes and/or counselling. In order to access a MHTP, you must have an eligible Medicare card.
It might feel uncomfortable to talk about your experiences and challenges, so remember to be gentle and kind with yourself, and go at your own pace.
When you book the appointment with your doctor you can request a long, or double appointment. This will give you the space to talk through what is happening, and you are less likely to feel rushed, and more likely to feel acknowledged. Also, legally your doctor needs to have at least a 20 minute appointment to appropriately explore your mental health.
Not all doctors specialise in mental health, you can check in with your usual doctor if this is something they can support with (before your first appointment), or whether they recommend an appointment with another doctor. Most General Practitioners should be able to support you, but there is no harm in double-checking to make sure you get the right support to make the process smoother.
You can be part of the process when it comes to making a treatment plan…it is your health and wellbeing after all. If you know you want to seek counselling make sure you mention this specifically so your doctor can help you with a Mental Health Treatment Plan (MHTP).
It might involve a few steps, but once you have one you are eligible to access up to 20 sessions per calendar year. A MHTP allows Australian residents who hold a valid Medicare card to access crucial treatment for mental health concerns at a more affordable rate.
As of 2022, if you have an eligible MHTP the government will provide you with a rebate or pay part of the costs for accessing psychological services:
In most instances, you will have to pay the gap between what the psychologist charges, and how much Medicare rebates you.
Some psychologists or psychological services also offer bulk billing which means you will not be out of pocket for attending your appointment. Generally, there are criteria that have to be met to qualify for bulk billing. This can differ between psychologists and practices, so check out their website or give them a call to find out exactly what is required to consider you for bulk billing. Please note that bulk billing services can attract a longer waitlist, so ensure you find that out when you are making your enquiries.
To start with, your doctor will refer you for 6 sessions. They don’t approve all 20 at the start because they will want to check in with you and see how you are progressing as you commence your help-seeking journey.
After session 6, your psychologist will need to write a brief letter to your doctor to share your progress and share their recommendations as to whether you need any additional sessions.
After session 6 if you do want to access more sessions you will need to make another appointment with your doctor to review the letter your psychologist has sent them, and they will likely ask some similar questions as in your first appointment. They will want to see how you are travelling, how well the counselling and current treatment plan is working and whether to adjust or tweak the plan based on how you are going.
Once your doctor has approved more sessions, they will send a letter (or give one to you) letting the psychologist know they have been approved to offer you up to 4 more sessions. As with your original Mental Health Treatment Plan, this will also need to include a referral letter.
You will go through this same process again for accessing the remaining 10 sessions if you need them.
During the appointment with your doctor, you can ask them if they have any recommendations for a psychologist or psychological practice/service, but you can also do your own research and find your own psychologist. Your doctor will then need to write you a referral to your chosen psychologist or service. Once you have these two documents you are ready to get started and can contact the person/service listed on the referral and start discussing making your first appointment. Some other things to consider might be:
Although you might have the name of a psychologist written on your referral letter, it doesn't mean that you can't get Medicare rebates for sessions with a different psychologist. That referral letter can actually be used by any psychologist, so don't let that choice stop you from starting your mental health journey, you can always decide later on.
There isn’t really a difference. Technically Medicare calls it a MHTP, however you might see the two terms being used interchangeably. Don’t be concerned if you hear either being used, they are essentially the same thing, but the documents your doctor will prepare will have the words Mental Health Treatment Plan on them.
If you prefer the convenience of having online psychology sessions or want to skip the usual wait times of face to face psychology, you can simply tell your GP that you'd like to use My Mirror Online Psychology services and choose your psychologist after your appointment with your GP.
Once you have your documents, you can book a session with one of our psychologists and upload your Medicare documents to your profile to access rebated sessions. We look forward to supporting you on this journey towards wellbeing.
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I live in a regional area with very little resources available for mental health. My Mirror was a great help and were super quick with any questions including how to add my mental health plan. Great work Mirror team