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Mental Health plans and Assessments

I've decided that I need more help and support for my mental health condition, but I don't know where to start.

I've had a mental health care plan with a GP since I got diagnosed a few years ago, but I feel like the help the GP can provide is very limited and this plan no longer suits me. In fact, I no longer feel comfortable talking to my GP about my escalating mental health issues (major depression, suicidal thoughts and struggling generally with life as a person). 

I'm wondering how do I go about entering mental health services. Do I need to get a referral from the GP to go see a psychologist, or do I go directly to said psychologist to get a new assessment? 

Do I need to get a separate assessment ddone through centrelink? Do I need to go through a hospital?

I'm very lost with all this. 


Re: Mental Health plans and Assessments

Hi @EternalFlame,

As you may know, under a 'Mental Health Care Plan, all Australians are eligible for 6-10 sessions of psychology sessions subsidised under Medicare. We need a GP referral for this.

Separate to this, there is also the possibility of being referred by the GP to see a psychiatrist.

I have both a psychiatrist and a psychologist who treat me for bipolar disorder, both very helpful indeed.

This is how I have gone about getting the mental health care I needed:

  • Google searches on psychologists in my local area, then look up whatever information there is about them on the web, to help give an idea of who they are. Then ring around and find out their availability and if any of them bulk bill. If not, how much their 'gap fee' is and whether I will be able to afford it.
  • Go to GP and tell them enough (not necessarily all) about how I am, in order to get a referral to the psychologist under the 'Mental Health Care Plan'. 
  • Same process for the psychiatrist, except that this is not under the mental health care plan. Psychiatrist sessions are always covered under Medicare.
  • If you prefer, the GP can directly refer you to both a psychologist and/or psychiatrist of their choice, so you don't have to do the research yourself. This can be okay, but I have found that GPs don't always know many of them, they may not be transport accessible to me, and I may or may not be able to afford the fees.

No GP I have ever seen has ever refused me these referrals if I asked for them.

I hope this is helpful.



Re: Mental Health plans and Assessments

It very much depends on where you live to what kind of support you have access to. living in or near a big city is always helpful, as not only are the services there to begin with but you have the option to pick and choose to find someone who suits you.

I live on the Sunshine coast in QLD and have found a fantastic doctor and psychologist that works for me, however i had to sift through quite a few till i found the ones that actually listened to me instead of making assumptions and just treating me in the manner that "fixes" the majority.

In QLD [not sure if they're everywhere else] we have the acute care team. If you have the choice and means to, my own recommendation would be to avoid them at all costs. Their front line is arrogant, rude and unsympathetic. they might have changed since i had the misfortune of having to deal with them but when you're at your lowest low they are that last push off the edge. However if this is your only choice, its still doable, just be strong and wade your way through the rubbish till you get to the actual psychiatrists etc behind their front line.

I think from memory a mental health plan needs updating every year, and is a great first step. its unfortunate your relationship with your doctor broke down, as having a GP you trust and have a great rapport with, is so important. I once had a doctor flat out refuse to give me a mental health care plan because I looked "happy and healthy" - didn't seem to matter the plan was court ordered, they thought it was all fake because I could smile. Either way your doctor should have a list, maybe even printable of psychologist and or psychiatrists in your area, and it would  list whether or not they bulk bill. Each psych would have their own interests or specialties, so if theres something you deal with along side BPD it could be worth researching or even calling to ask if a certain one specialises or even can recommend someone they know of that does.

The only time I believe centrelink would come into any part of your mental health stuff, is if you were struggling to meet your fortnightly or general criteria they have for you to meet, then you would need to ask to see a social worker there and discuss the issues you're having with them directly so they can let you know your options and any extra services or help they may have available. Alternatively the only other time i can think of is if you were on or were applying for a disability support payment, This would very much depend on how youre affected with your mental health. I know at different times, their minimum of 15 hours work a week, was far beyond achievable for me - whilst i've never been on a disability support payment, I've been in the early stages of applying, but luckily found new support which enabled me to function a little more.


Me--> feels crap --> goes to GP  -->  GP makes mental health care plan --> doctor gives you plan so you can go source psychologist OR -- Doctor faxes plan to psychiatrist --> psychiatrist rings you directly to make an appointment (or in my case refered me to a different one they thought might be more helpful for me based on my medical history)  - from there, you should recieve bulk billed sessions with minimal to no cost. my psychologist costs me $28.90 [vaguely] out of pocket each time.

I've  only recently started seeing a psychiatrist and the one i see is totally bulk billed on the condition i bring someone with me - thats just how that particular psych works, having someone with me can allow him to ask them questions about me and their interactions with me.

You just have to weed through the crap till you find a team of people who can help you get to where you need to be.





Re: Mental Health plans and Assessments

Hi guys,

This thread is really interesting and I think its great that you have reached out for information and help with this @EternalFlame

Both @Mazarita and @Jadyth - have offered some great advice here for you. @Jadyth, I am sorry to hear of your experiences with the acute care team. Teams and staff may be different from region to region, so experiences might be different. I hope they have changed since your engagement with them - it seems completely counter productive to treat people who need help in such a horrible way.


It is important to continue to reach out to supports that are accessable, as experiences can be different (hopefully for the better) for each individual at different times.

Best of luck @EternalFlame - hope you are feeling a little less lost with all the above information Smiley Happy


Re: Mental Health plans and Assessments

Hi, new to this.  I went through "mental health" after an episode. Got access to a free psychiatrist  ( 10 min. every 2 months or so). My GP wouldn't give me a referral to a psychologist because of this... How do you suggest I work around this? 


Re: Mental Health plans and Assessments

10 minutes every 2 months doesn't seem like a lot of face time. Maybe try a different GP and tell them that you need to see a psychologist?

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