Mental Health Care Plan: What It Is, Why You Will Need One And How Do You Get One From Your GP?

Have you ever felt less happy than you would like to be? Three million Australians are living with anxiety or depression, making mental health care one of the biggest challenges we face as a community. Getting a Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP) can make a big difference to your state of mind.

Here’s everything you’ll need to know:

What Is A Mental Health Care Plan?

A mental health care plan (or mental health treatment plan, MH plan, GP MHTP) is a document that your GP writes with you about treating a mental health condition.

It identifies what type of health care you will require and details what you and your doctor have agreed you are aiming to achieve.

FYI, in case you were wondering, this is what the document looks like.

Your GP will fill it out with you during your consultation.

A GP MHTP allows you to claim up to 10 sessions each calendar year with a Medicare registered mental health professional. This means that your GP may refer you to see a psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker or occupational therapist for an initial 6 sessions, with the possibility of 4 more after a review.

For example, your GP may refer you for 6 sessions to see a psychologist for your anxiety. After Medicare rebate, you will be out-of-pocket $101.75 per counselling session when seeing a New Vision Psychology psychologist instead of $190 out-of-pocket.

After the first six sessions with your chosen mental health professional (e.g., clinical psychologist, social worker), you can revisit your GP for a mental health review. They will assess your progress and, if required, refer you for 4 more Medicare-subsidised psychological consultations.

COVID 19 update: as of October 9, 2020, eligible people may claim up to 20 sessions each calendar year with a Medicare registered health professional.

What Support Can I Get?

Mental health covers a broad range of things. Most mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, coping with substance abuse and suicide prevention are covered in our mental health services (click here to see the full range of services our psychologists offer).

Specifically under the scheme, the Better Access initiative covers the following mental health issues:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Grief and loss
  • Panic disorders
  • Phobia
  • Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD)
  • Eating Disorders (such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating)
  • Sleeping problems
  • Alcoholism
  • Drug addiction
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
  • Sexual disorders
  • Conduct disorder
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Adjustment disorder
  • Co-occurring anxiety and depression

Please contact us for more information – our team is available to provide guidance and assistance.

If you already have a MH plan, contact us on 1300 001 778 to make an appointment with us.

How Do I Get A GP Mental Health Care Plan?

For individuals with a mental health condition, you and your doctor can create a plan to manage it and its symptoms.

Your mental health plan will have goals agreed by you and your doctor. It will also detail treatment options and support services you may access (e.g., psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors, social workers).

To do this, you will need to:

  1. Make an appointment – when making an appointment tell the receptionist that the appointment is for a mental health care plan. This will allow them to set enough time for your appointment.
  2. See a GP – any general practitioner in Australia can write a MHCP with you. You can specify with the receptionist if you would prefer a male doctor or a female GP.
  3. Bring your Medicare card 
  4. Bring ID – if you are a new patient so that you can be set up in their system.
  5. Speak to your GP – discuss your symptoms, how you feel, what has been concerning you, and what you feel has affected your life. Your GP may ask you to come back for a second consultation before deciding whether a mental health plan is the right thing for you

Once your GP has given you a mental health care plan or other GP referral, it means that you and your doctor agree on the type of care you will need to meet your needs and that you agree to seek support. This might also include a referral to another professional in your local area that your GP recommends.

How Is A MHCP Different From A GP Referral?

A GP Referral explains to us why you are being referred, what type of plan you are on (Initial, Review or Better Access) and the number of sessions you are eligible for with a psychologist (4, 6 or 10).

The referral also includes details of your GP, their provider number and signature. Your MHCP is not valid without these.

A Mental Health Care Plan features specific sections for the GP to fill out regarding your medical history and circumstances. It also specifies the Medicare item number, which tells your practitioner whether this is your initial plan or a review. It should be dated and signed by the GP.

How Much Does A MHCP Cost?

Most of the time, a MHCP is free to get if your GP or Medical Centre is completely Medicare covered. With Medicare, some costs, like seeing certain specialists or other health professionals, can be rebated, as they will be charged separately. Your doctor will inform you of any costs when you agree to a Mental Health Care Plan. If you are unsure of what fees you may incur, consult your doctor.

Who Is Eligible For A Mental Health Treatment Plan?

A Mental Health Treatment Plan is available to those with a mental health disorder diagnosed by a doctor. This includes children, teenagers and adults alike.

Will The GP Select A Psychologist For Me Or Can I Choose One Afterwards

The GP may refer you to a psychologist nearby, but you are welcome to conduct your own research. 

Even if the referral has someone else’s name on it, you can still take that referral to a psychologist that you choose.

How Long Does A MHCP Last?

The Mental Health Care Plan provides you with up to twenty sessions that will be partially covered by Medicare until 30 June 2022. 

You will not receive all twenty sessions at once, after six sessions, you will see your GP for a mental health care plan review and they can refer you for more sessions if required. This is because a MHCP referral covers up to six mental health sessions at a time.

What Happens If I Got One Last Year But Didn’t Go See A Psychologist? Do They Expire?

A mental health care plan does not expire and a referral is valid until the referred number of sessions have been used up.

From the beginning of the calendar year, your MHCP resets to 10 rebatable sessions. If you have a valid MHCP, you will be able to continue with your treatment without a new plan.

During your treatment plan, your GP may review your plan and update it according to your situation. Your GP may provide you with an updated referral letter and maintain the original plan.

Extra support is available until 30 June 2022, which allows access to an additional 10 sessions for those experiencing severe mental health impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

When Do I Need To Get A New MHCP?

Significant changes in your mental health may indicate that you need a new treatment plan. Your care plan should be regularly reviewed to ensure it is meeting your needs.

How often a new plan is needed depends on the health care professionals involved. Mental health care plans may be prepared every 12 months, and reviewed after three or six months by a GP.

How Can I See How Many Sessions I Have Remaining?

To see your remaining sessions, login to your MyGov account and open your Medicare account. Go to “History and statements” and click “Medicare claims history”, and this will show your claims history.

I Need Support Right Now

You can call any of the following crisis lines 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:

Need Help Finding The Right Psychologist For You?

New Vision Psychology can help with 4 convenient locations across Sydney