How sound is Australia’s mental health insurance system?

  • November 16, 2020 12:38 PM AEDT
  • Team Kalkine
    Team Kalkine
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How sound is Australia’s mental health insurance system?


  • Many Australians have fallen prey to the mental maladies amid the isolation and lockdowns
  • The Australian government provides a wide range of services related to mental health.
  • These services include patient care in hospital, community mental health care services, consultations with specialist medical practitioners, general physicians, psychologists and many other services.

Human being are social creatures. No matter how much time we devote in improving our mental health, we cannot do it completely in seclusion. During things like shutdowns and lockdowns happen, we are restricted to ourselves. Phone calls, video calls and social networking platforms might help us stay in touch, but nothing comes close to matching the essence of one-to-one interactions with colleagues, family and friends.

While some managed to figure out how to handle the isolation and lockdowns, others fell prey to the mental maladies and succumbed to the stressful situations.

Do read: Google’s sister company X sheds light on its ambitious mental health project

Reacting to stressful situations like Covid-19

Mental health plays a vital part in decision making, stress management and relationship management. How a person responds to the stress induced by settings like Covid-19 pandemic depends on various facets like one’s background, social support from friends and family, economic condition, physical health, surroundings emotional well-being et al.

People who are more prone to facing the heat of a crisis like Covid-19 include individuals who are at higher risk of serious ailments. This category may include older people and people with low immunity, people taking care of their family, healthcare providers, essential services workers, people with existing mental conditions and disabilities, people who are socially isolated from others, along with people who stay alone.

During the pandemic, all these significant factors of our lives were challenged.

Also read: Covid-19 impacting mental health: Youth getting affected more

Mental health addressed in Australia

The Australian government provides a wide range of services related to mental health. These services include patient care in hospital, community mental health care services, consultations with specialist medical practitioners, general physicians, psychologists and many other services.

There are numerous resources that can be referred to for acquiring assistance in mental health related issues. Few selected services are mentioned below

  • Head to Health: This platform can help one hunt for Australia’s most dependable mental health organisations. Run by Australian Department of Health, Head to Health features applications, online programmes, online conferences, phone services and an assorted range of digital information resources.
  • Beyond Blue Support Service: This service can be availed for depression and anxiety related matters.
  • Blue Knot Foundation Helpline: This one provides counselling to adults through phone.
  • Lifeline: This helpline is a 24 hour telephone counselling service.
  • Kids Help Line: This phone and online counselling service is kept confidential and anonymous and is for young people aged between 5 and 25.
  • Parentline: This is a telephone service for parents and carers of children.
  • Stride Mental Health: Previously termed as Aftercare, this service has been helping people during the various stages of their mental health journey.

Government Initiative on Mental Healthcare

Under the National Mental Health Strategy, the Australian government has developed a series of programmes and services in order to address the mental health needs of the countrymen. The strategy includes 5-year National Mental Health Plans covering period from 1993 to 2022.

In May 2020, National Cabinet approved a National Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan. Along with this, the Australian Government committed an additional $48.1 million for various mental health support plans.

In 2020-21 Federal Budget, the Australian Government allocated an unprecedented $5.7 billion for mental health, making mental health and suicide prevention a national priority. The government is taking many initiatives to boost the mental health of Australians, including

  • The Government is expanding the national headspace network by investing $630.4 million for next four years starting 2020–21 in the. The Government is expanding the headspace network from 124 services to grow to 153 services nationally by 2022.
  • Medicare-funded psychological services are also expected to get doubled from 10 to 20 through the Better Access Initiative.

Mental Health Insurance Providers

What does Medicare cover?

Medicare can include a substantial portion or all of the expenses of mental health treatment. A person experiencing mental health issue is first advised to visit a general practitioner. Depending upon the GP, this appointment can be bulk billed or one might receive a refund of the doctor’s fees under Medicare. After this initial consultation, you may be referred to a specialist. Medicare may cover a part or all of these costs, depending upon the treatment.

The GP may also prepare a Mental Health Treatment Plan which allows a patient up to 10 Medicare-subsidised sittings per year with a mental healthcare specialist.

If one requires to be hospitalised, Medicare will cover the treatment by a public hospital.

Must read: How does health insurance work?

Role of private insurance in mental health

Mental illnesses are of different types and have various degrees of severity. Some of the major ones are depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar mood disorder, personality disorders and eating disorders.

Majority of the mental illnesses can be successfully treated. Recognising early signs and symptoms of mental illness and grabbing the right treatment is necessary. The sooner the care begins, the better is the result. Some parts of the mental healthcare can be protected by private health insurance, including hospital admissions and psychology services.

Private health insurance: When it comes to mental healthcare outside of a hospital, private health insurance normally does not cover visits to a psychiatrist. However, some extra policies may involve cover for sessions with a psychologist up to an annual limit. There are as of now, 79 health insurance extra policies on the Canstar database that cover psychology claims.

Since April 2019, all hospital policies must cover hospital psychiatric services, although the level of cover one receives, will depend on the tier of the policy.

Self-isolation or quarantine is likely to aggravate mental depression and give rise to adverse physical health. Especially now-a-days, when the mankind has become considerably serious about lifestyle and overall well-being, it is high time for the government to sanction obligatory measures to impart support.

Also read: Mental Health claims likely to go up; Are Insurance firms ready?


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