Psychological services via telehealth (videoconference) sessions, with rebates from Medicare, are available for people experiencing mental health difficulties and who live in rural and remote parts of Australia. This Medicare initiative allows you to access the same level of clinical psychology service as is available in city locations, without having to travel to the city. This also alleviates the possible concerns associated with seeking help for psychological difficulties within a small community where confidentiality may be difficult to maintain.
Medicare rebates are available if dealing with problems such as Depression, Anxiety disorders, Panic disorder, Sleep problems, Phobias, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, Adjustment disorder, Conduct disorders, Bereavement, Eating disorders, ADHD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Bipolar disorder, Alcohol use disorder, Drug use disorder, and Sexual disorders. However, excluded under the Medicare scheme are problems such as Tobacco use disorder, Dementia, Delirium, and Mental Retardation problems. These are not defined as being mental disorders. Psychological testing is also excluded.
For the rebate to apply, you will need a Mental Health Care Plan and a Referral Letter (addressed to Ed Zahra) from your GP, psychiatrist, or paediatrician and the consultation must be done in a ‘telehealth’ format. That is, there must be both a video and an audio connection between you and the psychologist. Ed Zahra will send you a link to connect via ‘zoom’. To participate, you will need a quiet and private space, a stable internet connection, and a device such as a smartphone, tablet, or computer with a camera, and either a microphone and speakers or headphones with a microphone. If you don’t have this equipment, it may be available for you through your local medical or community centre. You must also live in an eligible rural, remote, or very remote location (that is at least 15 km away from the psychologist) and not be a patient in an emergency department or admitted to a hospital at the time of the consultation.
Please call Ed on 0420 553 009 to see if you are eligible for psychological services via telehealth.