The mental health treatment in Australia is dominated by the medical model via the Medicare Mental Health Plan system.
I see it time and time again across different social platforms, in the community and amongst friends. Someone raises the subject of mental health and there is always the response of ……. "‘get a GP referral and get onto the mental health care plan"’.
It’s almost like people have been brainwashed into believing that this is the ONLY option they have in order to get help and it’s not their fault. After all, as in any area of life, we rely on the professionals for their knowledge to guide us into doing what is best for us. To keep you well informed, let's have a look at five important things you may want to know about before making a decision about your mental health treatment:
You have a choice of Therapist. You can decide who you want to see and you do not have to see whoever your GP refers you to. If you do decide to go on the mental health care plan then do your research and find a Therapist you want to see. We are, after all, human too and need to be the right fit for you.
If you choose to go on the mental health care plan then you will need to be diagnosed with a disorder and this disorder will need to be placed on your medical records. These records can be accessed, with your consent, by insurance companies and certain employers which can negatively impact future insurance and job applications. Do you need a diagnosis?
Going on the mental health care plan also means your Therapist cannot choose what therapy they want to use when working with you. They have to follow the one that Medicare has instructed them to use. Therapy is not a ‘one size fits all’ model and therefore this approach may not always work for everyone. Seeing a Therapist privately means you will reap the benefits of having a Therapist that can tap into all her qualifications, knowledge and experience to find what works best for you, not what works best for Medicare.
Sorry to bring it up again but yes there are limitations to the mental health care plan and this one is based around the number of sessions. Time limits. How do we put time limits on what is enough to get someone through a tough time? We can’t... Only our clients know when the hill has been climbed and they have started down the other side so why should they be told that their sessions are finished when they are still on the uphill climb? On the mental health care plan, you only get 6-10 sessions per annum. Most clients see their Therapist weekly to start with, in order to reap the benefits, so that’s only six weeks of the whole year. It's simply not enough.
And lastly, yes you do get a positive from the mental health care plan and that’s the rebate. The rebate is approximately $84.40 per session, however, as the rebate only applies to Psychologists your gap payment is often around $115.60 as they charge upwards of about $200 - generally more. ….and when the rebates end? Who can afford to pay $200 per session to continue going? If you can’t, know that there are Counsellors who charge $80-$100 per session as their full private fees, without the mental health care plan, so you can afford to go for as long as you need to. Always check that who you are seeing is qualified and that goes for any health professional.
Remember, at the end of the day, you need to do what’s right for you and if that means being diagnosed with a disorder and going on a mental health care plan then that’s what you need to do. If you try it and it doesn’t work for you then go private, there are always options and if you are ever unsure, ask, ask, ask. All the best in your search for the right mental health treatment for you xx