The management of a diagnosed mental health disorder often needs structure and planning. Gone are the days of throwing some tablets or wishy washy advice and leaving people to fend for themselves.
A mental health care plan allows you and your doctor to come up with a way of monitoring, treating and reviewing your mental health condition. It often takes a few visits to clarify a diagnosis and come up with an appropriate strategy then decide what our specific goals are, and plan ways to tackle these to improve your mental health.
Not everybody does. Sometimes a regular appointment, review and follow up is sufficient for milder episodes of depression, anxiety or other issues. But if your condition becomes worse, then a plan can be very helpful so we stick to some longer term goals.
Like all well thought out plans, it prioritises our treatment goals to specific things. Instead of ‘improve depression’ it would be, decrease number of sick days taken, or re-engage in past hobbies – then the plan can be broken down to realistic steps of how to achieve this, when to review and how to monitor improvement. When you’re very unwell it can be hard to see the forest for the trees and a plan helps us navigate this journey.
It also provides the benefit of some reimbursed therapy through a psychologists, counsellors and social workers. Generally these are 10 visits per calendar year, from the date of the care plan until the 31st of December, resetting on the 1st of January.
If you and your doctor believe that a psychologist would be helpful in your plan, then this can be a great way to include them in the plan so everyone is on the same page, and also to help with the costs of seeing a psychologist.
Generally your doctor decides if a plan is helpful in your situation with your permission and by consulting with you. A plan is written, a symptom severity tool like the DASS21 or K10 is performed, and a diagnosis must be made.
Then your doctor may refer you to a psychologist asking them to see you under this plan. The first 6 visits receive a rebate, then you must be reviewed by your doctor to make sure things are still going to plan. You can see your doctor well before this and we still encourage you to do so, but you can’t get the last 4 rebates without being reviewed and referred again.
The plan isn’t designed to be a reverse referral. Ie you want to see a psychologist and they say “go get a plan from your GP”. In some situations this may be appropriate, as long as your doctor is involved in the care of your mental health issues.
It’s also not for non mental health diagnoses. Relationship difficulties, performance coaching, or general psychology visits are not eligible for a mental health care plan. But depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, adjustment disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, personality disorder and a wide variety of other mental health diagnoses are eligible.
If you would like to discuss your mental health, or the possibility of a mental health care plan, please book in with your doctor at GS Health.
Green Square Health provides a range of services to fulfil the needs of our community.
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