Mental health care and Medicare

We can help you with the cost of some mental health treatments.

Immediate danger or in crisis and need support

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.

Seeing a doctor

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.

You can read about the different types of mental health professionals and find a health service on the healthdirect website.

Bulk billing

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.

Help with costs

A mental health treatment plan lets you claim up to 10 individual and 10 group 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.

When you make your appointment, remember to ask:

  • how much you’ll pay
  • how much of the cost we’ll cover.

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.

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 consult instead. You can claim for video consult 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 and Aged Care website.

Find out more about Medicare services for rural and remote Australians.

Seeing a social worker

Social workers can help you with short-term counselling or 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:

If you go through our service centres, there won’t be any cost to you.

Read more about getting help from a social worker.

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 and Aged Care 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:

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.

You may be able to participate in 2 sessions per calendar year as part of the mental health treatment plan of the person you care for. You may be able to do this if all of the following apply:

  • they consent to this as part of their treatment
  • they don’t attend the sessions
  • the sessions are part of their treatment
  • the treating or referring health professional recommends it.

These sessions count towards the limit of 10 individual sessions in their mental health treatment plan.

Page last updated: 28 September 2023.
QC 60233