Understanding Medicare when accessing Psychological Therapy

In Australia, we are fortunate to have government-funded support for when we experience a decline in our mental health or wellbeing. Within the Medicare system is a specialised program called the Better Access initiative, which is aimed at providing greater access and financial support for psychological therapies.

To access the benefits of the Better Access initiative, you will typically need a referral from your GP or another medical practitioner, along with a Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP). The referral and MHCP serve as a gateway that allows you to connect with mental health care providers such as psychologists. It ensures a collaborative approach to treatment with your GP and mental health care provider working together to develop a comprehensive care plan tailored to your individual needs.

Under the Better Access initiative, Medicare covers a portion of the costs associated with treatment by a psychologist, psychiatrist, and other mental health care professionals. You can receive a Medicare rebate for up to 10 psychological therapy sessions per calendar year (and up to 10 group therapy sessions) provided your mental health care provider is registered with Medicare and you have a valid referral and MHCP.

So, what do you do if you notice a decline in your mental health or wellbeing?

The first point of contact should be your GP. Please note that if you are in crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 44 or go immediately to your nearest hospital and present to the Emergency Department. If you are not in crisis, you will need to make an appointment with your GP to discuss your symptoms. If your GP advises that you might benefit from a MHCP, they may complete the plan for you during your appointment or may ask you to make a follow up appointment. You will need both the MHCP and a referral when booking in for psychological therapy. This can be addressed to a particular psychologist or mental health care provider, or it can be addressed to a practice. There is no need for your GP to state the number of sessions on the referral. Each referral can be used for a maximum of 6 sessions after which you will need to visit your GP to discuss an additional referral.

Once you have claimed a Medicare rebate for 10 sessions in any one calendar year, any unused sessions on your referral can be rolled over to the following year. At this time, you should discuss ongoing psychological support with your GP and your mental health provider. There may be the option to continue with therapy as a private client. In addition, if you have private health insurance you may be able to enquire directly with your insurer if they will provide a rebate.

If you would like more information about Medicare rebates for psychological services under the Better Access initiative, please discuss this with your GP, your mental health care provider, or visit https://www.health.gov.au/our-work/better-access-initiative or https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/mental-health-care-and-medicare?context=60092.

You can also call Project Wellbeing on (02) 9136 0481 and we would be happy to answer any questions.

carroline carrie moran

Carrie (Caroline) Moran (Clinical Psychologist)

Carrie is a Clinical Psychologist who seeks to provide a safe and non-judgemental space for clients to share their experiences. Her warmth, empathy and commitment to creating a strong therapeutic relationship form the foundation for building a shared understanding of the client’s challenges.

Through a collaborative and supportive process, Carrie works with clients to develop skills and strategies to make positive changes and improve wellbeing.

Carrie has experience working with a range of presentations including anxiety, depression, perfectionism adjusting to major life events, drug and alcohol addiction, family difficulties, grief and loss.

Carrie tailors therapy to an individual client’s needs and draws on evidence-based approaches including Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and mindfulness-based approaches.

Make an Enquiry

To find out more or make an appointment please call us on (02) 9136 0481 or fill in the contact form.