Better Access Initiative and access to Allied Psychiatric Services (ATAPS)
The first step in seeking help for your mental health concern is to visit a GP to discuss how you are feeling and if a referral through the Better Access initiative or Access to Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS) program is available.
- Your GP will review your medical history, social situation and lifestyle to understand your symptoms.
- After discussing your concerns, your GP will assess you to clarify if you have a mental health condition which could benefit from further treatment.
- Your GP can give you advice and work with you in finding the best approach to improve your mental health.
- If a referral to mental health specialists through Better Access or ATAPS is an option, the first step is for your GP to create a ‘GP Mental Health Treatment Plan’ with you after discussing your situation and symptoms.
- Your GP will probably ask you to return for a review of your mental health plan to ensure you are getting the help you need.
Better Access Initiative
GPs are able to refer patients to Psychiatrists, Clinical Psychologists, Registered Psychologist, Pediatricians, Social Workers and Occupational Therapists and to work closely and collaboratively with them.
What you can get through Better Access
As from January 2013 onwards 6 individual sessions in an initial course of treatment will be covered by the Medicare rebate with the possibility of an extra 4 sessions extending this to a maximum of 10 sessions per calendar year.
Individuals will continue to be able to receive further group therapy sessions on top of their allied health services.
Mental health services may not always be bulk billed under Better Access – you may be required to cover the gap between the Medicare rebate and the practitioner’s fee, so ask your GP about this.
Annual rebates through Better Access
> 6 sessions
> then an extra 4 sessions, subject to requirements
> plus, up to 10 group therapy sessions
Access to Allied Psychological Services-ATAPS
ATAPS seeks to increase access to mental health professionals through general practitioners (GPs).
ATAPS targets certain illnesses or groups such as Perinatal depression, youth, Health Care Card Holders, low income earners, patients experiencing financial difficulties.
Culturally and Linguistically Diverse communities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and patients struggling with homelessness are also priorities.
What you can get through ‘ATAPS’
GPs will refer individuals with common mental health disorders to allied health professionals for 6 sessions of evidence based mental health care.
After review from a GP it may be possible to receive an extra 6 sessions.
In exceptional circumstances 6 additional sessions may be added for a total of 18 in a calendar year.
Services are likely to be free or at very low cost as they are funded by Medical Locals.
For more information go to the Australian Government website for the Department of Health and Aging: http://www.health.gov.au
Annual rebates through ATAPS
> 6 sessions
> then an extra 6 sessions, subject to review with GP
> possibly a further 6 sessions, in exceptional circumstances only
> plus, up to 12 group therapy sessions
For more about ATAPS and Better Access: