All information is current as at 1 November 2016.

Access to MBS Rebateable Mental Health Services

MBS items are available for GPs, psychiatrists and paediatricians to provide continuing management of patients with a mental disorder6.  There is also a suite of items for allied mental health providers to lead or contribute to care.  These mental health MBS items are collectively referred to as the Better Access to Mental Health Services items.

Allied mental health services under this program include psychological assessment and therapy provided by eligible clinical psychologists, and focused psychological strategies provided by eligible psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists and GPs with additional training.

A client is eligible to access Medicare rebates for up to 10 individual and 10 group services from a clinical psychologist or other allied mental health professional in a calendar year.

These 10 individual and 10 group service rebates are available for clients who are referred by:

  • a medical practitioner managing  the patient under a GP Mental Health Treatment Plan (#2700, #2701, #2715 or #2717) or under a Psychiatrist Assessment and Management Plan (#291)

or

  • a psychiatrist or paediatrician following the provision of a service and a claim under a specific Medicare item number (for specialist psychiatrists and paediatricians, following a claim for any item within the range #104--#109; for consultant physician psychiatrists, following a claim for any item within the range #293--#370; and for consultant physician paediatricians, following a claim for any item within the range #110--#133).

Client Eligibility for MBS Rebate for Mental Health Services

Clients are eligible for these services if they are judged by a GP, psychiatrist or paediatrician to have a mental disorder as per World Health Organization guidelines (1996) 6.

Limitations

The Better Access to Mental Health Services item numbers will not suit all community health clients with mental health issues because:

  • there may be substantial  gap fees if the relevant private provider chooses to charge above the schedule fee
  • access to Medicare-registered practitioners  may be limited, particularly in rural and outer urban areas
  • the item numbers do not fund non-therapy interventions, such as casework or family therapy sessions where the client is not present.

Despite these limitations, the items have the potential to complement community health counselling in local communities.

Better Access to Mental Health items

Better Access to Mental Health Items flowchart.

Better Access to Mental Health

Service type

Mental Health Treatment Plan
For a GP who has not undertaken Mental Health Skills training *
MBS item 2700 or Item 2701

For a GP who has undertaken Mental Health Skills Training
MBS Item 2715 or Item 2717

Ensure patient / client eligibility Eligibility Criteria
For patients with a mental disorder who would benefit from a structured approach to the management of their treatment needs.  Mental disorder is a term used to describe a range of clinically diagnosable disorders that significantly interfere with an individual's cognitive, emotional or social abilities Dementia, delirium, tobacco use disorder and mental retardation are not regarded as mental disorders for the purposes of the GP Mental Health Treatment items.
A new GP Mental Health Treatment Plan should not be prepared for a patient unless clinically indicated.
Role of the GP

Assessment and preparation of the GP Mental Health Treatment Plan or components there of:

An assessment of a patient must include: recording the patient's consent; taking relevant history (biological, psychological, social) including the presenting complaint; conducting a mental state examination; assessing associated risk and any co-morbidity; making a diagnosis and/or formulation; and administering an outcome measurement tool, except where it is considered clinically inappropriate.

Preparation of a GP Mental Health Treatment Plan must include: discussing the assessment with the patient, including the mental health  diagnosis or provisional diagnosis; identifying and discussing referral and treatment options, including appropriate support services; agreeing goals with the patient - what should be achieved by the treatment - and any actions the patient will take; provision of psycho-education; a plan for crisis intervention and/or for relapse prevention, if appropriate making arrangements for required referrals, treatment, appropriate support services, review and follow-up; and documentation.

Frequency of service Once an initial GP Mental Health Treatment Plan is in place, a new plan should not be prepared unless clinically required and generally not within 12 months of a previous plan. Ongoing management can be provided through consultation and review services.
Review MBS item 2712
Item 2712 is for an attendance by a GP to review a GP Mental Health Treatment Plan or to review a psychiatrist assessment and management plan.
Recommended frequency is an initial review between four weeks and six months after the completion of the GP Mental Health Treatment Plan and, if required, a further review at least three months after the first review.
Further information * The General Practice Mental Health Standards Collaboration (GPMHSC)
MBS Online - Medicare Benefits Schedule
Australian Department of Health - Primary care (GP, nursing, allied health)
MBS Online - search results on term '2715'
Australian Department of Human Services - Education services for health professionals