Mental health care and Medicare
We can help you with the cost of some mental health treatments.
If anyone’s life is in immediate danger, call 000 or visit a hospital emergency department.
If you’re in crisis and need support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. They’re open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
We all experience challenging emotional issues at different times. We can’t always deal with these on our own. If you feel you need help and it’s not an emergency, it’s best to see your doctor.
When you see your doctor, they’ll assess what help you need. This could include:
- making a mental health assessment
- creating a mental health treatment plan
- referring you to a psychiatrist or other mental health professional
- giving you a prescription for medicines to treat depression or anxiety.
Your doctor might ask you some personal questions to understand your situation. Sometimes it can be hard to talk to others about your mental health. You can read tips for talking to your doctor about mental health on the healthdirect website.
If your doctor bulk bills, we’ll cover the cost of the appointment. If your doctor doesn’t bulk bill, you’ll need to pay either:
- the full cost
- the difference between what they charge and what we cover.
If you pay the full cost, you can make a claim for the amount we cover. Your doctor can also make a claim on your behalf.
Mental health treatment plans
If you have a mental health disorder, you and your doctor can create a plan to treat it.
Your mental health treatment plan will have goals agreed by you and your doctor. It’ll also have:
- treatment options
- support services available.
Keep in mind your health information and treatment plan will be private. Doctors can’t share your information unless you agree to it.
Mental health professional support
Your doctor can refer you to mental health professionals including:
- social workers.
You can read about the different types of mental health professionals on the healthdirect website.
You can also use their find a health service tool to find one near you.
Help with costs
A mental health treatment plan lets you claim up to 10 sessions with a mental health professional each calendar year.
To start with, your doctor or psychiatrist will refer you for up to 6 sessions at a time. If you need more, they can refer you for further sessions. Health professionals set their own fees, so we may only cover some of the cost. Ask how much you’ll pay and what you’ll get back from us when you make your appointment. If they bulk bill, you won’t have to pay anything. If you have private health insurance, you may be able to get some money back. You can check with your insurer.
If you’re impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, you may be able to claim 10 extra sessions in your plan. You need to be subject to a public health order that either:
- restricts your movement in your state or territory, issued between 1 July 2020 and 31 March 2021
- requires you to self isolate or quarantine.
Find out about accessing these extra mental health help sessions.
Rural and remote support
If you live in a remote area, it might be hard to see a mental health professional. You may be able to have a telehealth video consultation instead. You can claim for video consultation sessions with a mental health professional.
Ask your GP or mental health professional if they offer this service. You can also search the find a health service tool on the healthdirect website for mental health telehealth services.
Read more about telehealth services for people in rural and remote areas on the Department of Health website.
Find out more about Medicare services for rural and remote Australians.
Seeing a social worker
If you need someone to support you, our service centre staff can connect you with a social worker. If you go through our service centres, there won’t be any cost to you.
Social workers can help you with:
- short term counselling
- referrals to support services.
You can talk to a social worker about:
- family and domestic violence
- thoughts of suicide or self-harm
- being a young person without support
- a personal or family crisis
- mental health concerns
- a natural disaster and how it’s affected you.
To contact a social worker, you can either:
- call the Centrelink employment services line and ask to speak to a social worker
- visit a service centre and ask to speak to a social worker.
Find out more about who social workers help and the ways they can support you.
Finding help online and by phone
You can use our payment and service finder to find mental health services in your state or territory. It includes support services for:
- family and domestic violence
- relationship troubles
- veterans and their families.
Online therapy is an online treatment for mental health issues. It includes online programs that can be helpful for people with mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. You should talk to your doctor first to see if it’s right for your situation.
You can read more about online therapy on the healthdirect website.
Mental health websites
The Head to Health website has helpful resources from a range of mental health websites. It has information about:
- supporting yourself
- supporting someone else.
The Reachout Australia website has information to support young people experiencing mental health issues.
Mental health phone lines
If you’re in crisis and need support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. They’re open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Lifeline website also has helpful information on crisis support and suicide prevention.
If you’re between the ages of 5 and 25, you can call the kidshelpline on 1800 551 800. They’re open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They offer a phone counselling service. The kidshelpline website also has helpful information for kids, teenagers, young adults and parents.
You can find other mental health helplines on the healthdirect website.
You can also find a list of mental health programs on the Department of Health website. There is a range of programs to suit different mental health needs.
Getting support when you’re pregnant
Being pregnant and having a baby can bring up confusing emotions. If you’re pregnant, or have been in the last 12 months, your doctor can refer you for counselling. We may help cover the costs of up to 3 sessions. Read more about pregnancy counselling on the Department of Health website.
You can also read more about Medicare services for conceiving, pregnancy and birth.
Caring for someone with a mental health disorder
Caring for someone with a mental health issue can be challenging emotionally and financially.
Centrelink offers support through:
- Carer Payment - an income support payment if you give constant care to someone
- Carer Supplement - an extra yearly payment for some carers
- Carer Adjustment Payment - a one-off payment for carers of children under 7 with severe illness or major disability.
You can use the Carer Gateway website to find other kinds of support. This includes practical, social, and emotional help.
Read about how to support someone with a mental health condition on the Head to Health website.
Page last updated: 25 August 2020
This information was printed 24 September 2020 from https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/subjects/whats-covered-medicare/mental-health-care-and-medicare. It may not include all of the relevant information on this topic. Please consider any relevant site notices at https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/site-notices when using this material.