Have you been feeling unhappier than you should be? Experiencing stress and anxiety or concerned about something going on in your life? If you are experiencing issues or concerns about your mental health wellbeing, you might be eligible for a mental health care plan. There are many benefits to a mental health treatment plan. They can help you manage stress and anxiety, feel happier and more peaceful, help improve your relationships, manage challenges, set goals etc. They provide appropriate support and treatment for those who need it most, helping to provide long-term care.
There are different practices you can get specialised treatment and access to a care plan for people of different groups including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the elderly, youth etc. Care plans are a great way to ensure you’re taking good care of your mental health, and much of the cost is covered through Medicare! Find out what care plans entail and how simple it is to get one in this article!
What is a mental health care plan?
A mental health care plan or treatment plan is a support plan created by a doctor for someone experiencing mental health issues. These issues may be minor and concern short-term problems or be more major and concern long-term illnesses. Lots of people can benefit from a mental health care plan. You do not already need to be diagnosed with a mental health condition to receive a care plan from a GP.
If the doctor recommends you need additional support in managing your mental health, they will create a plan that refers you to other health professionals such as a psychologist, a psychiatrist, a social worker, an alcohol and drug support worker etc. They may also recommend different strategies or exercises for you to implement, such as meditation, self-care, physical exercise, attending mental health services etc.
With a mental health care plan, you can get government funding for up to ten sessions with a mental health expert per calendar year. Through the Medicare Rebate, the government department of health covers either the partial or full cost of these sessions to assist you in receiving treatment.
How to get a mental health care plan
To get a mental health care plan, you first need to book an appointment with your doctor. You can get a care plan for your mental health from any General Practitioner. When booking your session, it’s good to mention that your appointment will be for a mental health care plan so they can allocate you enough time for your session. Generally, a mental health care appointment requires an extended or double appointment time.
You will talk about your mental health concerns at your appointment with your doctor. This could mean discussing your thoughts and feelings, challenges you’re facing etc. Opening up about your feelings can seem daunting, but try to relax and remember your sessions are confidential. Your GP is a trained professional who wants to help!
It can be useful to prepare for your session. Try writing down a list of problem areas you’d like to address with your doctor. For example, you may be experiencing a lot of stress or anxiety lately, there may be a situation in your life causing you distress etc. Bring this list to your session so you know what to discuss, and don’t forget to mention anything important.
Your doctor will ask you questions and may ask you to fill out a questionnaire to better understand how best to support you. Your doctor will then discuss with you your goals for how you’d like to be mentally and write a referral for you to see other allied health professionals. This could be for someone they recommend or, someone you have personally chosen. Your care plan should outline your goals, what services you need, and the best treatment options for you.
Mental Health Treatment Plan: 3 Key Steps
Care plans (or treatment plans) can be broken down into three major steps; the assessment, the plan, and the referral.
To prepare a mental health care plan, the doctor will start with an assessment of the patient. They will first record the patient’s consent for a mental health care plan. They will then discuss the patient’s relevant history, such as whether the client has a history of family mental illness, physical and mental conditions, social circumstances etc. During your conversation, the doctor will conduct a Mental State Examination (MSE). This is where they assess things like appearance, behaviour, speech, the content of speech, mood, perception, cognition etc.
They will then assess other factors, such as whether you are a risk to yourself or others, and potentially make a diagnosis. The doctor may also use an outcome measurement tool. Outcome measurement tools include a Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale, Kessler Psychological Distress Scale, Short Form Health Survey and Health of the Nation Outcome Scales. These tools are used to help determine a patient’s current status. They may also consult with other allied health professionals to work together as a team to support you.
Next comes the actual preparation of the mental health care plan. The doctor will discuss their assessment with the patient, including their diagnosis if relevant. They will then discuss treatments options, support services, and referrals with the client. Together the doctor and client will set goals that can be achieved through treatment, and actions they can take to achieve these goals. The doctor may also provide the patient with some more knowledge relating to mental health to further their understanding. Depending on the patients’ needs the doctor will plan for crisis intervention or relapse prevention. All of this information will be documented in the form of a mental health treatment plan.
The last part of receiving your mental health care plan is the referral. Depending on the client’s needs, the doctor will refer them to other allied health professionals such as a psychologist, social worker, a particular program or service etc. Usually, after about six sessions of treatment, the doctor will review the patient’s progress. It is important to review your health with your doctor regularly. They check to see if the patient is on track to achieving their goals, and whether they need to change their course of treatment or require additional treatment. Care plans do not expire; however, the doctor may need to make adjustments to the original plan throughout your progress.