Mental Health Care Plan

Medicare & Mental Health Care Plans: A Comprehensive Guide

Introduced in 2006 by Medicare and continuing to evolve until now, The Better Access initiative aims to improve access to mental health services and support for individuals experiencing mental health concerns. With the Better Access initiative, individuals can claim rebates through Medicare for sessions with their psychologist, social worker, and/or occupational therapist through the form of a Mental Health Care Plan.


What is a Mental Health Care Plan
How Mental Health Care Plans Work: A Process
Tips on Talking to Your Doctor About Your Mental Health
How Long Does a Mental Health Care Plan Last?
How to Claim the Rebate With Medicare
Reviewing Your Mental Health Plan
Some Quick Questions

What Is a Mental Health Care Plan?

Now understood as a Mental Health Treatment Plan, a Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP) is a support plan created by your General Practitioner (GP). It reviews your current mental health and outlines a tailored approach to treatment, encompassing various interventions, strategies, and resources.

As part of The Better Access initiative, individuals with a MHCP can access up to ten rebated sessions per calendar year with their chosen mental health practitioner. The MHCP is collaboratively developed by the GP and the individual and serves as a roadmap for navigating the journey towards improved mental well-being.

How Mental Health Care Plans Work: A Process

Embarking on a journey towards improved mental health is daunting but incredibly rewarding.
This process involves a series of thoughtful interactions with healthcare professionals that are centred around your well-being, helping you chart a course toward improved mental health.

  1. Book In With Your GP

    The first step to bettering your mental health is to schedule an appointment with your GP. If you don’t have a regular GP, it’s very easy to find one using the Health Direct Service Finder. Taking this first step may seem scary, but it’s important to understand that you are showing great strength in committing to work on your mental health.

  2. Visit Your GP

    The initial conversation with your GP is a safe space for you to express your thoughts, fears, and feelings, and for your GP to gather a comprehensive understanding of your situation. During this time, it is natural to feel nervous, but sharing your story is a necessary step towards your own healing.

  3. Assessment

    Depending on your situation, your GP may recommend a second appointment in order to conduct a thorough assessment of your situation. However, some GPs prefer to complete the assessment during the initial meeting.

    During the assessment, your GP may ask you questions about your mental health concerns, symptoms, their duration, and how they affect your daily life. They might also discuss any triggers, stressors, or significant life events contributing to your mental state. This comprehensive assessment assists your GP in determining the best course of action.

  4. Creation of MHCP.

    Based on the assessment, if your GP deems it necessary, they will create an MHCP tailored to your needs. This plan outlines your goals, recommended treatments, and strategies to address your mental health concerns. Think of it as a road map with signposts guiding you towards improved mental well-being and sense of self.

    At this stage, your GP may provide you with psychologist recommendations. It is important to understand that these are just suggestions, and you are free to conduct your own research to find a psychologist who resonates with you and aligns with your needs.

  5. Visit Your Chosen Psychologist

    Armed with your MHCP, you’re now equipped to connect with the mental health professionals recommended by your GP. Through a series of sessions, they’ll help you unravel the complexities of your mental health challenges, impart coping skills, and empower you to gradually regain control over your well-being.

  6. Claim Medicare Rebates

    After each session, don’t forget to use the help from Medicare rebates. By sending in your claims, you can lighten the load on your wallet when seeking professional help. This financial support means you can put your energy into healing without stressing about costs.

  7. Review

    Depending on your progress, you may require more sessions than is outlined in your MHCP. If this is the case, you’ll have to return to your GP to review and update your MHCP. This ongoing communication ensures your treatment aligns with your evolving needs.

Tips on Talking to Your Doctor About Your Mental Health

  • Be open and honest: Openly share your experiences, even if they seem trivial. Every detail can help the professional understand your situation better.
  • Embrace Vulnerability: Opening up about your struggles requires vulnerability, but it’s also a key ingredient for meaningful change and growth.
  • Set goals: This is something your chosen professional will explore with you, so don’t fret if you can’t think of any.
  • Be patient: Progress takes time. It’s okay if you don’t see immediate results; healing is a gradual journey.
  • Be kind to yourself: Healing isn’t linear. If you face setbacks, understand that they’re part of the process.
  • Express Preferences: If you have preferences regarding treatment methods or communication style, let them know.
  • Set Boundaries: If a certain topic or approach feels overwhelming, let your doctor know. They can help you navigate difficult discussions at your own pace.

How Long Does a Mental Health Care Plan Last?

A standard MHCP in Australia usually covers a period of up to 12 months. During this time, you’re eligible for ten rebated sessions with mental health professionals, such as psychologists, counsellors, or social workers, as outlined in your plan. These sessions can address a range of concerns, from grief counseling to stress management or anxiety counseling.

It’s important to note that while a MHCP typically lasts for up to 12 months, your progress will be periodically reviewed by your GP to determine whether any adjustments are needed. This review process ensures that your treatment aligns with your evolving needs and that you’re receiving the appropriate level of care.

How to Claim the Rebate With Medicare

As soon as you receive mental health care plan under Medicare, you are eligible to receive money back on the full price of sessions with your chosen mental health professional. There are two ways to achieve this:

Manual Claiming

Claiming the rebate for sessions covered by your MHCP is a straightforward process with Medicare. After each session with your preferred mental health professional, you can follow these steps to claim your rebate:

  • Log in to your Medicare Online Account via myGov or use the Medicare app.
  • Select the “Make a Claim” option.
  • Under “What are you claiming?”, choose “Health.”
  • Depending on the type of mental health professional you visited (e.g., psychologist or counsellor), select the appropriate service category.
  • Enter the information from your receipt, including the service date, the provider’s details, and the service fee.
  • Submit the claim.

Automatic Claiming

Many mental health practices offer the convenience of automatic claiming. With this option, your mental health professional directly submits the claim to Medicare themselves. With this method, you are still provided with an invoice, but the professional will use their own means to submit the claim on your behalf. This approach simplifies the process for you, with the funds arriving bank in your bank account just days after.

Reviewing Your Mental Health Plan

The last stage of your MHCP process, reviewing your mental health care plan, is something that should be done in collaboration with your chosen mental health practitioner and GP. As mentioned above, individuals with a mental health plan can access ten rebated sessions per calendar year with an initial allocation of six sessions. After this, you will have to attend a review with your GP, who will work with you to determine if an extra four sessions are necessary.

This review involves your GP assessing your progress and determining whether more sessions are necessary to achieve the desired outcomes. This step is meant to ensure that you continue to receive appropriate care based on your ongoing needs. After the ten rebated sessions have been used, you may continue your appointments, but you will have to pay for the sessions privately. After 12 months have lapsed from your last MHCP, you may initiate a new MHCP to access rebated sessions.

Some Quick Questions

For additional information about mental health care plans and Medicare, check our range of commonly asked questions below or contact our friendly team today!

  1. Can I claim telehealth appointments on Medicare?

    Yes, telehealth services are covered under a Medicare mental health plan. As of 2021, patients can receive rebated mental health support services in the form of sessions that are completed as video or phone calls.

  2. How Much Will Medicare Pay For?

    The specific amount Medicare pays for mental health support services depends on the psychologist and practice. At LMP Psychology, a standard individual 50-55-minute appointment is billed at $240. However, if you have a Mental Health Care Plan from your referring doctor, you can access a rebate of $128.40, leaving you out of pocket approximately $111.60. Check out our page on rebates and billing for more information.

  3. Can you change psychologists halfway through your ten sessions?

    Yes, if you find that you’re not comfortable with your current psychologist or you prefer to work with someone else, you can discuss it with your referring doctor (or mental health professional) and request a change of psychologist. It’s important to communicate your needs and preferences to ensure you receive the best care possible.

  4. How do I find the right psychologist?

    If you have an MHCP, your referring doctor may have provided you with a nearby mental health professional. However, if you want to do your own research, head on over to Beyond Blue’s service provider or the Australian Psychological Society for resources on different practices and psychologists in your local area.

    However, prior to doing so, it is important to understand your own needs and preferences and what you are looking to get out of therapy. This way you can make informed choices that align with your personal goals and expectations.

    From this point, it is reccomended that you conduct some research in terms of the specific psychologist and practice in regards to their online reviews, credentials, and specialities. This way you can ensure that you’re selecting a professional who is well-suited to address your unique concerns and provide effective support.


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