Homehealth & wellbeingmental healthwhat is a mental health care plan?

What is a Mental Health Care Plan?

Have you noticed yourself feeling down or anxious? Is it seriously affecting your life? If so, you should visit a doctor, also known as a GP (general practitioner). 

Your GP will help you start your mental health journey by writing up a Mental Health Care Plan. 

What is a Mental Health Care Plan? 

As the name suggests, a Mental Health Care Plan is a support plan of steps to improve your mental health. It can help you think clearer, work through challenges, improve relationships, and learn how to cope with tricky situations.  

The plan can include:

  • A referral to see an expert, like a psychologist or psychiatrist
  • The types of mental health care than can support you 
  • Self-care strategies to improve and maintain your mental health, like exercising, practising your hobbies, meditation, spending time in nature, and more. 

If you have a Mental Health Care Plan, the government will pay for some or all of the cost of up to 10 sessions per year with a mental health expert, like a psychologist. This means it will be either free or the price will be reduced for you, depending on the cost! You can get this through Medicare, and it is usually automatically processed for you. 

How do I get a Mental Health Care Plan? 

You can get a Mental Health Care Plan by seeing your GP. If you want to go to the doctor on your own, learn how to do that here. It’s a good idea to let the clinic know you want to talk about a Mental Health Care Plan, so the doctor knows in advance and can prepare for it. 

What can I expect at a Mental Health Care Plan appointment?

At the appointment, the doctor will ask you some questions about what’s been going on. Remember: they are trained professionals and everything will remain confidential — except for in some special circumstances, which you can ask them about beforehand — so be as open as you can. If you’re feeling nervous, that’s okay and totally normal.

Your doctor will ask you to fill out a questionnaire about how you’ve been feeling. Your answers will help them work out the steps needed to support you. It shouldn’t take too long to get through the appointment. If it feels intimidating or scary, remember that the doctor is there to support you.

Once you get your Mental Health Care Plan, you’re all set to begin taking those steps to look after your mental health. 

Your doctor might recommend: 

  • Speaking with a psychologist or psychiatrist
  • Lifestyle changes, like adding exercise into your day or eating different food
  • Cutting out alcohol and drugs
  • Medication to help you feel more like yourself

Your Mental Health Care Plan will need to be reviewed every few months by your doctor, so they can track your progress and assess any changes that need to be made.

You can learn more about Mental Health Care Plans over at headspace

Need someone to talk to? Free, confidential support is available.

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