The Better Access to Mental Health Initiative is a scheme that helps you access more affordable mental healthcare services by providing Medicare rebates for psychology sessions. In order to be eligible for Medicare rebates via the Better Access Initiative, you must have a referral from your GP.
To get a referral from your GP, you need to attend your GP to complete a mental health assessment. If your GP diagnoses you with a mental health problem and determines that you need the service of a psychologist, your GP will put together a Mental Health Treatment Plan, and prepare a referral to a psychologist.
NOTE: Make sure you book a longer/double session with your GP when wanting to get a referral to a psychologist so the GP can complete the mental health assessment.
You can also see a psychologist privately, meaning you pay the full fee and receive no rebate.
Under Better Access, eligible people can receive up to 10 individual and up to 10 group allied mental health Medicare subsidised support services per calendar year (1 January to 31 December). Referrals cannot be provided for the full 10 sessions. A referral is for a maximum of six sessions. Your referring doctor will assess your progress after the first six sessions and determine whether further sessions are needed. You can attend these sessions either face-to-face, or via telehealth, depending on your needs.
Typically, your first session will include providing some personal information about yourself and signing a consent form that covers issues such as confidentiality, fees, and other important information. The remainder of the session is spent discussing the reasons you may be seeking therapy, as well as your background history. For example, your psychologist may ask for information about your family, social relationships, medical history, education, and work.
Following the first session your psychologist will develop a treatment plan. The remaining sessions will be spent engaging with your psychologist in intervention strategies to help improve your mental health. This may include things such as: talking through your difficulties, problem solving, learning strategies and coping skills to manage distress, and engaging in different types of therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.