Primary Mental Health Services
Another way of accessing subsidised mental health treatment is through the Australian Government’s primary mental health care program. In this program, Primary Health Networks (PHNs) are responsible for commissioning a range of mental health services for people with a mental health condition. These services vary based on the needs of the individual, and the needs of different communities. To find out which PHN you live in, visit the Department of Health's website.
Information on the services available in your community is available through your local doctor, or by visiting your PHN website.
At a general level, PHNs fund:
Low intensity mental health services for early intervention
These services are for people who have, or are at-risk of, mild mental health conditions. They could include Beyond Blue’s NewAccess program, e-therapies, or other forms of psychological treatment. Low intensity services may be available without needing a referral from your GP.
Psychological therapies provided by mental health professionals
These services are designed to complement the Better Access program by assisting people who cannot easily access Medicare-based programs, in particular:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- people in rural and remote areas
- children and young people
- people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness
- women experiencing perinatal depression
- people with intellectual disability
- people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
- people at high risk of suicide.
Through this program, up to 12 sessions are likely to be available in a calendar year. To access these psychological therapies, you will need to have a mental health treatment plan developed by a GP, or have a referral from a paediatrician or a psychiatrist.
Generally, there is little or no out-of-pocket expense incurred.
Primary mental health services for people with severe mental health conditions
These services are designed to complement and enhance the Better Access program, and are specifically for people with severe and complex mental health conditions. The services available are likely to include mental health nursing and clinical care coordination.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health services
These services are intended to be culturally appropriate and safe, and designed to holistically meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They may be delivered by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, Aboriginal Mental Health Services, or mainstream services.
Child and youth mental health services
Young people aged 12 to 25 can access information, support and services through headspace. Talk to your doctor or PHN to find out if other dedicated child and youth mental health services are available in your community.