Reaching out to for help when we are struggling with our own mental health is often a difficult and daunting step as quite often there is the uncertainty of where to begin.
So, throughout this article I wanted to explore accessing help through a mental health care plan to access treatment with a Mental Health Professional which is accessed through your GP.
A mental health care plan will enable you to receive either bulk billed or subsidised consultation fees for your therapy sessions, each mental health clinician or organisation will have their own billing arrangement, so I suggest asking if they bulk bill or if you are required to pay a gap fee prior to commencing your sessions.
Step one: you need to book an appointment with your GP, I suggest you let the receptionist know that your appointment is for a MHCP to allow for a longer appointment.
Why? Well, your GP will require sufficient time to discuss and record all relevant information relating to your mental health and any relevant physical health issues inclusive of but not limited to medication, diagnosis, risks to provide your treating clinician an overview of your areas of concern, goals and suggested treatments dependent on your presenting issues.
Next step, if you have a preferred mental health clinician or provider you would like to access let your GP know so that the plan can be addressed to this specific person or provider.
But if you don’t, it isn’t an issue as you can take your MHCP to a provider once you decide or you can ask your GP if they have know of any suitable services or individuals within your region.
Upon completing your MHCP, your GP will provide you with a copy of your mental health care plan which will enable you to access a total of six sessions.
Upon completing your sixth session your chosen provider will need to provide your GP with a review on your progress.
At this time you will need to make an appointment with your GP advising your appointment is for a GP mental health care plan review.
Again, let reception know to allow for the necessary time to discuss your progress and recommendations made by your provider.
Upon completion of your review, your GP is able to provide you with another four sessions which are also subsidised by Medicare.
You can now book in again to with your chosen provider to ensure continuity of therapeutic care, intervention and supports.
Rapport with your provider is key so it is important to note that if at anytime you feel that you are not connecting, you can disengage and utilise remaining sessions on MHCP with another provider.
Take time to research providers in your region to determine who may be a right fit for you based on your needs and their area of expertise and ensure you walk away from sessions feeling valued, heard and safe in the space you share with them during your consultation.
Remember it is natural to be nervous to discuss your mental health with what is likely a complete stranger but seeking help enables you to receive the supports, treatment and tools you need to address your concerns from a trained professional.
Lastly if you find that this process is overwhelming for you, I suggest engaging a close friend or family member who may be able to attend your GP appointment to help you articulate your concerns to settle your nerves.
Should you require further information you can access Health Direct website which you may find useful.
- 13YARN 13 92 76
- Kym Marsden is a Queensland-based Indigenous forensic mental health coordinator