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Understanding the costs of mental health services

5-minute read

Key facts

  • The costs of mental health services can vary a lot.
  • The Australian Government's Better Access initiative helps people to get mental health support at a lower cost.
  • People in remote areas can get support through telehealth.

How much do mental health services cost?

The costs of mental health services can vary enormously, depending on where you live and which service you are receiving.

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

Search for mental health services in your location.

Low cost or free mental health services

If you have a mental health condition, you might be able to get help with payment through a government program.

The Better Access initiative gives Medicare rebates to help people see mental health professionals and get support and care.

What is the Better Access initiative?

The Australian Government's Better Access initiative helps people to get mental health support at a lower cost. Financial support is available to see eligible:

If you live in a remote area, you can get support through telehealth.

Eligible people can get support for 10 individual and 10 group mental health services each year.

Who can use the Better Access initiative?

The rebate is available to people with a diagnosed mental health condition. This includes conditions such as depression and anxiety.

You doctor will need to develop a Mental Health Treatment Plan with you.

Your Mental Health Treatment Plan shows what type of health care you need. It also shows the treatment goals you and your doctor have agreed on.

How much will I have to pay?

The cost of getting mental health care can vary.

Provider Cost
Doctor Medicare covers some or all of the cost
Psychologist The Better Access initiative covers some or all of the cost
Psychiatrist Medicare covers some or all of the cost
Community mental health service Free
Non-government organisation (NGO) Usually free
Public hospital Free

If you are in a private hospital, you will be charged. If you have private health insurance, that may cover some of your costs. You should talk with your private health insurer to find out what's covered.

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) subsidises the cost of most medicines for mental health.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provides support for people aged under 65 years whose mental health condition impacts their ability to function in everyday life.

Resources and support

If you have concerns about your mental health, you can contact a free counselling service such as:

  • Head to Health — for mental health support, you can call 1800 595 212, Mon-Fri 8.30am–5pm.
  • Lifeline — for anyone having a personal crisis, call 13 11 14 or chat online.
  • Beyond Blue — for support and information about mental health, call 1300 22 4636 or chat online.
  • Kids Helpline — call 1800 55 1800 for 24/7 phone support for young people aged 5 to 25 years.
  • Suicide Call Back Service — for counselling for anyone affected by suicide, call 1300 659 467.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2023

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