Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Low cost or free mental health services

3-minute read

If you have a mental health condition that needs treatment, you might be able to get help with payment through 1 of 2 government programs.

If you qualify for the Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners through the Medicare Benefits Schedule initiative (‘Better Access’), you will be able to receive a Medicare rebate on more than the standard number of sessions for services provided by your doctor, psychiatrist or psychologist.

Your GP can also refer you to psychological services through the local Primary Health Networks. These have funding allocated to them to provide services to populations within their area deemed to be at high risk or have poor access to mental health support. This will be locally dependent, so discuss if you can access these services with your GP.

Who can use the Better Access program?

You can use Better Access if your doctor says you are eligible. As a first step, you must have been diagnosed with a mental health condition such as bipolar disorder, depression, psychosis or anxiety. Some conditions, like dementia, are excluded.

You will also usually need a mental health care plan from your doctor.

If you have a mental illness, your doctor might refer you to Better Access as a way of improving your treatment at a lower cost to you. The practitioner you are referred to may accept the rebate as the payment, or you may have to pay more than the rebate and then claim the rebate back from Medicare.

People using the Better Access program can have six individual and six group treatment sessions by a health professional such as a specially trained doctor (GP), psychologist, social worker or occupational therapist. Your doctor can then refer you for another 4 treatment sessions if they think it will help.

Under Better Access, you can claim for up to 10 individual and 10 group allied mental health services per calendar year.p>

If your doctor thinks it will help, you can get treatment under Better Access again next year.

How do I start?

The first step is to see your doctor. If you can’t see your doctor, any health service should be able to help.

Search for mental health services in your location.

Other mental health services

If you have concerns about your mental illness, you can also contact one of the free counselling services such as:

  • Lifeline (anyone having a personal crisis) – call 13 11 14 or chat online
  • Kids Helpline (24/7 phone and online chat for young people aged 5-25 years) – call 1800 55 1800
  • Suicide Call Back Service (anyone thinking about suicide) – call 1300 659 467

 

Sources:

Department of Health (Education guide - Better access to mental health care for general practioners and allied health professionals), Department of Health (Better access to mental health care: fact sheet for patients)

Last reviewed: October 2017

Recommended links

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Supportive Counselling - BluePages

Find out if supportive counselling is likely to help.

Read more on e-hub Web Services - Australian National University (ANU) website

Asking for Help (help-seeking)

Lifeline is a trusted national charity that has been saving lives for more 50 years. Lifeline works to prevent suicide through a range of crisis support services including its national telephone crisis support line, 13 11 14, operating 24/7 and Online Crisis Support Chat that is available every night.

Read more on Lifeline website

Carers NSW Young Carer Program | By Region

Everyone needs a little help sometimes. The good news is there are services available for young carers so you dont have to go it alone. Find out what support is available near you! Click on your area below to see whats available in your region.

Read more on Carers NSW website

Who Can Help and How? | WayAhead

Have you been referred to a psychologist, psychiatrist or GP for counselling, psychotherapy or other treatment for a mental health issue? What does all this mean? Recognising That We Need Help We are often faced with difficulties that we manage ourselves or with the help of our family or friends. However, at times we

Read more on WayAhead Mental Health Association NSW website

SANE Healthy Living Guidelines

Best practice in healthy living promotion for mental health NGOs (non-government organisations)

Read more on SANE Australia website

Treatment options for parents experiencing emotional problems during pregnancy and after the birth

There are a number of treatment options for emotional problems in new parents, and each has a place in a treatment plan.

Read more on WA Health website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback