Support Workers are among those eligible for extra training as part of a Medicare rebate for people to access mental health services.
The Better Access initiative gives Medicare rebates for eligible people to access social workers, occupational therapists, general practitioners (GPs), other medical practitioners and psychologists.
Since earlier this year, the rebate scheme has been extended to enable eligible people to involve a family member or carer in their mental health treatment.
This change was made with the recognition that people closest to those needing mental health services can help practitioners understand treatment needs and contribute to wellbeing and recovery.
The initiative funds education and training for carers and mental health professionals. This helps to build their skills in working with people who live with mental ill-health.
It also helps them understand important aspects of effectively treating people, including:
- Understanding Medicare Benefits Schedule item numbers.
- Referrals and patient health care planning.
- How mental health professionals can work together in a multidisciplinary care team.
To support medical professionals, Better Access funds the:
- Mental Health Professionals' Network to establish and support networks of professionals who work together on referral and treatment strategies.
- General Practice Mental Health Standards Collaboration to establish quality standards of education and training in mental health for general practitioners.
The Medicare rebate as it relates to mental health is available to people with a diagnosed mental disorder. This includes conditions such as depression and anxiety.
Eligible people can receive up to 10 individual and 10 group allied mental health services a year.
Since March 2020, due to COVID-19, all Australians can now use telehealth to access these services.
People in rural and remote areas, where mental health services can be scarce, particularly benefit from being able to access video consultations.
The Better Access rebate scheme was developed in response to the huge impact mental ill-health has on people’s lives, which can often be overwhelming. For people experiencing mental ill-health, getting the right support and treatment strategies early is critical.
Better Access helps cover the cost of this support, giving people easier access and more choice. The scheme aims to encourage more people to seek support for their mental ill-health.
It works to improve treatment and management for people who have mild to moderate mental health conditions. These are cases where short-term evidence-based interventions are most likely to be useful.