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Need Help with your Mental Health?

Nearly half of all Australians will experience a mental health problem, such as depression or anxiety, at some point in their lives. 75% of mental disorders will emerge by 24 years of age. This means, statistically speaking, having a mental health problem is very common.

Signs that you are experiencing a mental health problem can be varied. If you have been feeling sad, worried, down, angry, depressed, numb or generally just ‘not yourself’ for two weeks or more, it’s a good idea to seek professional help.

Seeking help from a health professional such as a Psychologist as soon as possible is very important, because without help, your symptoms may worsen, and may begin to negatively impact your ability to cope at work, school, or in your relationships.

Fortunately, there many effective psychological interventions available to treat mental health problems.

 

How to Access Psychological Services in Australia

Step 1. Find a GP

The first step in accessing treatment for a mental health problem, like any other illness, is a consultation with a General Practitioner (GP).

It is important to start with seeing a GP, because a GP can also check for any physical health problems or medications that may be contributing to mental health problems you are experiencing.

In addition, a GP can help you access government rebates to help you pay part of the cost of seeing a Psychologist, through a Mental Health Treatment Plan (MHTP).

If you don’t have a regular GP, or are looking for a new one, or one who bulk bills so you don’t have to pay for your medical services, you can find one on the Government’s Health Direct website. Alternatively, try googling Doctors in your local area and choose a Doctor who lists “mental health” as one of their areas of interest. However, please remember that all GPs are trained to assist you with your mental health.

  1. Make an appointment to obtain a Mental Health Treatment Plan

To be eligible to receive subsidised psychological services under Medicare, you need to obtain a MHTP from a Doctor (GP).

A MHTP is a plan a GP writes with you about receiving treatment for a mental health condition.

If you have a referral from a GP for a MHTP you will be eligible to receive a Medicare rebate of $87.45 for a general Psychologist, or $128.40 for a Clinical Psychologist, per session, for up to 10 sessions per calendar year.

Starting on 7 August 2020, if you are in an area of Australia subjected to further restrictions due to the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Government will provide 10 additional Medicare subsidised psychological therapy sessions in 2020.

If you haven’t received a diagnosis for a mental illness before, your GP will need to assess your eligibility for a MHTP.

0tep 2: Find a Psychologist

When developing your MHTP, your doctor can refer you to a Psychologist. However, you don’t have to use that Psychologist, and, if you want, you can also research Psychologists you might want to see before you go to the doctor.

The Australian Psychological Society (APS) has a Find a Psychologist™ service that helps you to find a Psychologist to suit your individual needs. The Find a Psychologist™ directory lists thousands of APS registered Psychologists around Australia.

In addition, here at Psycho-Social Student Hub, we have registered Psychologists who provide psychological services to university students. Our Psychologists are:

Please feel free to directly email one of our practitioners to discuss making an appointment.

Once you have your mental health treatment plan and your referral, you can set up an appointment with the Psychologist you want to see.

Please note, you can also directly contact a Psychologist to make an appointment (without at MHTP). However, if you choose this path, you will not be eligible for a Government rebate for your sessions and will have to pay the full cost yourself.

Further Questions?

If you have any questions about how to access psychological services, please do not hesitate to contact the very friendly Adele Bergin here at Psycho-Social Student Hub.

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Need Help with your Mental Health?

Psychiatrist holds a medical degree with a specialisation in mental health. They are able to diagnose mental health disorders and prescribe pharmacological (drug) treatments. Some psychiatrists also do talk therapy. Psychiatrists generally treat the most severe of mental health issues with medical interventions, although this is not always the case, and if you have been seeing a GP or Psychologist for some time about your mental health, and you are still not satisfied, a consultation with a Psychiatrist, for an expert opinion, may help.

Psychologists focus more on psychotherapeutic treatments. They use talk therapy to help people understand their thoughts, emotions and behaviours, and the relationships between them.

  • Clinical Psychologisthas completed an undergraduate degree with Honours, as well as a Master or Doctor of Clinical Psychology, and undergone additional specialised training in clinical psychology.
  • General Psychologisthas completed an undergraduate degree in psychology, followed by an Honours year, plus a postgraduate degree in psychology or two years of supervised training in which they receive on-the-job training while working closely with a supervisor.
  • Counselling Psychologisthas completed a Master of Psychology (Counselling). They help people through life transitions, with a focus on interpersonal relationships and mediation.

Counsellors are well-suited to helping people who are struggling with life’s ups and downs. Most counsellors have completed a Master of Counselling. Those with more acute, long-lasting mental health issues will sometimes be better served by a Psychologist or psychiatrist.

In Australia, all Psychologists must be approved by the Psychology Board of Australia and registered with Australian Health Professional Regulation Agency (AHPRA). You can check the registration of a Psychologist here: https://www.ahpra.gov.au/

How much does it cost to see a Psychologist?

The fees that Psychologists charge vary, and depend on their qualifications, the type of service being offered and the setting in which they work. However, if you have a MHTP from a GP, you can receive government rebates under Medicare to help pay part of the cost of seeing a Psychologist.

The current Government rebate for seeing a Psychologist is $87.45 for a general Psychologist or $128.40 for a Clinical Psychologist, for a 50 minute session.

This means, for example, if a Psychologist charges $140, your out of pocket cost with a MHTP would be:

  • $140 fee
  • $87.45 rebate
  • $52.55 out of pocket

If a Clinical Psychologist charges $180, your out of pocket cost with a MHTP would be:

  • $180 fee
  • $128.40 rebate
  • $51.60 out of pocket

If you are a Concession Card Holder (e.g., from Centrelink payments), tell your Psychologist, as you may be eligible for a discount.

You can also search for a Psychologist who bulk bills, so that there is no out of pocket expense, here: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/australian-health-services

Private health insurers may also rebate part of the cost of psychological consultations. Contact your health insurance provider for further information.

What if I’m scared about talking to my GP about my mental health?

It’s OK to be nervous before you talk to your Doctor about your mental health, particularly if this is a topic you don’t talk much about with anyone in your life.

Remember that your doctor is trained to assist you with your mental health, just like they know how to help you look after your physical health, and they help patients with mental health problems all the time.  Even if you’re nervous, it’s still important to speak with your doctor so that you can receive appropriate help. In fact, if you are nervous, it is a good idea to tell your Doctor, as it might help them to understand how your mental health is affecting you. It might help to try writing down all the things you’d like to tell your Doctor before your appointment, so you feel prepared when you arrive.

You can read tips for talking to your doctor about mental health here: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/talking-to-your-doctor-gp-about-mental-health

Keep in mind your health information and MHTP will be private and confidential. Doctors can’t share your information unless you agree to it.

What if I don’t want to see a GP or get a MHTP?

You only need to talk to your GP to obtain a MHTP if you want to claim a Medicare rebate. You can still see a Psychologist without a GP referral. However, it is often a good idea to keep your GP in the loop if you have a significant issue, so you have a broader support network. In addition, seeing a GP can help rule out any physical health conditions or medications that may be affecting your mental health.

What happens after the initial six sessions of a MHTP?

Once you have had six sessions with your Psychologist, they will assess your progress and make a recommendation as to whether they think more sessions may be beneficial. If you and your Psychologist agree to continue therapy, your Psychologist will write a letter to your GP and request a referral for further sessions.

What if I don’t feel comfortable talking to my Psychologist?

If you meet with the Psychologist and you do not feel comfortable, then you can see a different Psychologist under your MHTP. All Psychologists are different, and sometimes it is just about finding a good match. So, it is perfectly acceptable to tell a Psychologist you do not think it is a “good fit” and try someone new.

Importantly, though, every session you have counts toward your limit of Medicare rebatable sessions. So, if you “start over” with a new Psychologist, your rebatable sessions won’t renew until the next year.

Can I access psychological services online?

On 29 March 2020 the Federal Government announced all Medicare-eligible Australians have access to telehealth consultations during the COVID-19 outbreak. This means you can access psychological services via videoconferencing or phone.

What will happen when I see a Psychologist?

The first session with a Psychologist is nearly always primarily an information-gathering meeting. It is about the Psychologist trying to understand what your current problems are, and what is causing them.

From there, the Psychologist will assess what is the best evidence-based treatment to treat your problems. There are many different psychological treatments for mental health problems. It is important to make sure you know what treatment you are receiving, and if you do not feel the current treatment approach is helping you, ask your Psychologist to try a different treatment.

You can read more about the different treatments here: https://www.div12.org/psychological-treatments/

How can I prepare myself for my first session with my Psychologist?

If you’ve decided it’s time to see a Psychologist, then you’ve already done the hardest part: recognised you could use support with your mental health, found a GP and a Psychologist, and booked a visit.

If you would like to prepare for seeing your Psychologist, one good place to start may be to think about what your goals for therapy are.

For some people it is simply to “feel better”. Which is a great goal, however, you might want to think more specifically. Does “feeling better” mean “Worrying less about what is going to happen in the future?” “To stop having panic attacks?”  “To be able to enjoy spending time with my family?”

Whatever your goals are, be sure to communicate them to your Psychologist. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you find you’re not focusing on what you want to be focusing on during your sessions. Remind yourself of why you wanted to see a Psychologist in the first place.

What if there is a wait time to see the Psychologist and I need help sooner?

If you are waiting to see a Psychologist, and you need help in the meantime, please seek help from online sources.

In Australia there is free and confidential emotional support, 24-hours a day, 365 days a year:

  • Call Lifeline Australiaat 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service at 1300 659 467. ​​
  • If you are feeling worried or struggling to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, call Beyond Blue‘s Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Line at 1800 512 348 or find out more here.
  • If you are under 25, or a parent of a young person, call Kids Help Lineat 1800 55 1800.

If you think you have a medical emergency and are at risk of harm to yourself,

please call 000 immediately.

Whilst you are waiting to see a Psychologist you might also try online therapy. You can read more about online therapy here.

How long is a MHTP valid?

MHTP’s are valid for 1 year from the date of the referral.

Further Questions?

If you have any questions about accessing psychological services, please do not hesitate to contact Adele Bergin here at Psycho-Social Student Hub.

Take care

Adele, was absolutely excellent in helping me with my writing style, reviewing statistics and discussing concepts/ideas that I had for my essays and psychology thesis. She is experienced, patient and is well versed in both research and applied clinical psychology. I can absolutely recommend her if you need expertise in the area of academic research, psychology, or proofreading. She is a stats guru, patient and non-judgmental and I would recommend her help.

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