SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- Anyone who has a mental health issue that lasts longer than 6 months and needs the care of 3 or more health professionals will benefit from a treatment plan.
- Everyone’s treatment needs are different – your treatment plan can help you and your doctor to identify which services are best for you.
- A treatment plan explains the support provided by each member of your healthcare team, who is responsible for what and when.
- Your treatment plan should be reviewed regularly to make sure it continues to meet your needs.
On this page
What is a mental health treatment plan?
Mental health treatment plans are for people with a mental illness who have several healthcare professionals working with them. A treatment plan explains the support provided by each of those professionals and when treatment should be provided. Your treatment plan might also include what to do in a crisis or to prevent relapse.
Your doctor will use a treatment plan to help you work out which services you need, set goals and decide on the best treatment options for you. At other times, your doctor may contribute to a treatment plan that someone else has organised – for example, when you are returning home from spending time in hospital.
Reasons for a mental health treatment plan
Providing ongoing care and support for someone who is living with a mental illness can involve many different support organisations. These may include psychologists, GPs, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses or other community care providers. They are all part of the healthcare team, which works together to provide you with the best level of care possible.
Everyone’s treatment needs are different. A treatment plan puts down in writing the support you can expect from each of the people in your mental healthcare team and makes sure that everyone knows who is responsible for what and when.
You are an important part of this team and should be fully involved in preparing your mental health treatment plan.
Preparing your mental health treatment plan
Your doctor will work with you to decide:
- what your mental health needs are
- what help you require – your medical, physical, psychological and social wellbeing needs are all considered
- goals you would like to work towards
- what treatment would be best for you.
Once you and your doctor have agreed on your goals and the support you need to achieve them, your doctor will write out a mental health treatment plan. They will then discuss this with the other members of your healthcare team. Preparing the plan might take just one visit or it might take a number of visits.
Your doctor will offer you a copy of the plan and will also keep a copy on your medical record. If you give permission, a copy can also be given to other people, such as psychologists or your carer. You should tell your doctor if there is any information you don’t want other people in your healthcare team to know.
Benefits of a mental health treatment plan
Having a mental health treatment plan will help you become more involved in your healthcare. A treatment plan can:
- help you to set and achieve goals
- provide a referral pathway to a clinical psychologist and allied mental health service providers
- make sure everyone involved in your mental healthcare team is working towards the same goals
- help you and your doctor manage your long-term care in a way that is clear and easy to understand
- give you a way to monitor your progress and check that you continue to receive the care you need
- lead to better treatment by focusing on improving and maintaining your health, rather than just dealing with problems as they arise
- provide life-saving information in emergencies.
Issues to consider with treatment plans
Most treatment plans are prepared in your doctor’s office. However, you may also have a treatment plan prepared for you when you leave hospital. The time it takes to draw up the treatment plan depends on your healthcare professional and the complexity of your situation.
Some things to think about include:
- You will need to request a long consultation with your doctor to allow enough time to prepare your treatment plan and discuss your treatment options.
- If you would like a carer, family member or someone else to accompany you to the treatment plan appointments, you may wish to let your doctor know beforehand.
- Your doctor must get your consent before a treatment plan is developed, and you should be given a written statement of your rights and responsibilities.
- Discuss with your doctor any aspects of your assessment that you do not want discussed with the other members of your healthcare team.
Regular reviews are important
Once you have a mental health treatment plan, you should continue to see the same doctor for review and management. Significant changes in your health may mean you need to make a new treatment plan. Even if there are no big changes to your situation, your treatment plan should be reviewed regularly to make sure it continues to meet your needs.
How often a new plan is prepared may vary depending on which health professionals are involved. Treatment plans may be prepared every 12 months and should be reviewed after 3 or 6 months, or sooner if needed. A date for review should be written into your treatment plan.
Costs of a mental health treatment plan
If you have a Medicare card, Medicare will cover some or all of the cost of treatment planning by a doctor. It may also rebate some of the costs of certain specialists or other health professionals, which will be charged separately.
Your doctor should tell you what costs (if any) are involved when you agree to make a mental health treatment plan. If you are unsure, ask your doctor what fees will be involved.
Where to get help
- Your GP (doctor)
- Mental healthcare professional
- SuicideLine Victoria Tel. 1300 651 251
- Lifeline Tel. 13 11 14
- Kids Helpline Tel. 1800 55 1800
- Mensline Australia Tel. 1300 789 978
- Partners in Wellbeing Tel. 1300 375 330
- GP Mental Health Treatment Plans – more than just a referral, General Practice Mental Health Standards Collaboration.
- Better access to mental health care initiative, Australian General Practice Network.
- Mental health care and Medicare, Services Australia.
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