Mental health image. Silhouette of depressed person brain and healthy person brain.

In this article, we explain the steps to getting a Mental Health Care Plan, the rebates, situations where extra services may available, including areas impacted by bushfires and lockdown restrictions. And, we explain Telehealth services to support the delivery of programs to support you. We link you to Easy English Resources.

It is a simple process. The first step can sometimes take courage. It may help you to remember, feelings of anxiousness or nervousness are common, but you need not worry.

You may seek care for short-term concerns or long-term illnesses. Mental health conditions are normal to experience. Beyond Blue share the phrase “Mental health is about wellness rather than Illness”.  You can aim for your best possible mental health, and you can find support to help you along the way.

Easy English Resources

3DN has developed easy read information sheets on accessing mental health services in New South Wales.

These sheets provide information on 

  • Finding
  • Accessing and 
  • Using mental health services in NSW

The resources are available, with a video animation at the  UNSW 3DN webpage.

Direct Links to individual resources

Getting help with your mental health
The Mental Health Act
Rights and rules about mental health treatment
Make a complaint about mental health care


Council for Intellectual Disability also have a number of resources in their Health Easy Read section.

The Simple Steps

Step 1. Make an appointment with your Doctor or General Practitioner (GP). Communicate your concerns.

Step 2. If they decide a plan will help you, they will do 1 of 2 things.

  • Make the plan with you.
  • Or, refer you to treating professional to make the plan and goals with you.

Step 3. Referrals to allied health services are then available to support you. 

Make an appointment with your Doctor or General Practitioner (GP).

The first step is to connect with your Doctor. Tell your Doctor your concerns about your mental health.

They will consider your needs and circumstances. The Doctor will assess if a Mental Health Treatment Plan is suitable for you. Your Doctor may either prepare a Mental Health Treatment Plan and set goals in consultation with you. Or, they may refer you on to a psychiatrist who may make an assessment and management plan.

At your appointment, you might fill out a questionnaire about how you are feeling. Talking to the Doctor and answering the survey, can help the Doctor to find the best support for you.

Sometimes you will be required to see the Doctor again before they decide on the best plan of care for you.


Once an assessment and diagnosis is in place, they may refer you to allied mental health services professionals. Whether a patient is eligible to access allied mental health services is up to your treating health practitioner to determine. They will use their clinical knowledge and considering both the eligibility and the general guidance. To start with your referral will be up to 6 sessions. You can receive up to 20 sessions with further referrals.


Medicare rebates are available to patients for nominated mental health services, as provided by general practitioners (GPs), psychologists, psychiatrists, and occupational therapists and eligible social workers. 

If your doctor bulk bills, Medicare 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 Medibank cover. Your doctor can also make a claim on your behalf.

Medicare Eligibility

You can enrol in Medicare if you live in Australia and you are any of the below -

You can also enrol if you’re a citizen or permanent resident of either:

  • Cocos (Keeling) Islands
  • Christmas Island
  • Lord Howe Island
  • Norfolk Island

You may be able to access the service if you’re visiting from a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement country.

Eligibility for rebates

  • You have a GP Mental Health Treatment or Care Plan in place; or
  • You are being managed by a health practitioner under a referred psychiatrist assessment and management plan; or
  • Have been referred by a psychiatrist or in the case of children a paediatrician.
  • Referrals may be for a maximum of 6 sessions in 1 referral.

If the Doctor or therapist you are seeing is not the right “fit” for your individual needs, you can move to another one and use any remaining sessions with the new professional.

New support is available to people living with intellectual disability, it's called Healthy Mind, it's free and online. You can read more about Healthy Mind.

Further referrals

Following the initial referral, you can return to your Doctor for extra sessions up to 20 in a calendar year.

20 services in a calendar year

The Australian Government announced in the 2020 budget, an increase to 20 Medicare-subsidised psychological therapy sessions. People with a mental health care plan can continue to access the services they need. In recognition of the loss of freedom, the challenges of isolation, fear for loved ones, and concerns about employment and the mental health toll of these.

Better Access Bushfire Recovery

You can access Medicare benefits for up to 10 mental health treatment services if:

  • You or your family members have been impacted by the 2019-2020 bushfires across Australia
  • You are a first responder or emergency management employee or volunteer - who worked during the 2019-20 bushfires.

You do not need to have a diagnosed mental health condition, GP referral or mental health treatment plan in place.

If you think you would benefit from mental health treatment, talk to any of these:

  • Doctor or GP
  • psychologist
  • occupational therapist
  • social worker

If you live in a remote or a rural area, you will be able to get counselling and services through video telehealth supports instead. You will get a Medicare benefit for this service.

The telehealth initiative means you can use telehealth videoconferencing to get mental health and wellbeing support from your Doctor.

Sessions are available until December 2021. They are in addition to the 10 psychological therapy sessions currently available under the existing Department of Health’s Better Access Program.


The temporary Medicare Benefits Schedule telehealth items allow people to access essential Medicare-funded health services in their homes and reduce their risk of contact with COVID-19 within the community. In July new guidelines ensure patients receive care from a GP or practice with whom they have an existing relationship.

Telehealth services can support mental health. To learn about changes to telehealth, you can read our useful information here.

 An image with two pairs of hands, holding a red heart between them. The red heart has a white plus on it, first aid symbol.

Further reading

Healthy Mind - mental health program for people with intellectual disability 
Learn Mental Health First Aid
Look after your mental health 

For urgent support in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. In case of Emergency Dial 000

Information Sourced From

Better Access to Mental Health Care
Beyond Blue - What is Mental Health
Enrolling in medicare
Mental Health Care and Medicare
Services Australia - How to get mental health support 
Australian Government Budget 20-21

IDEAS does information so you can do life.