Healthy Minds provides free short-term psychological counselling services to people who would not otherwise be able to access treatment from a private practitioner. In particular, Healthy Minds supports vulnerable people such as children, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people at moderate risk of suicide and/or self-harm and people at risk of homelessness to access mental health services.
To improve accessibility to mental health treatment, Healthy Minds services are delivered in a variety of settings including community organisations, medical centres (including Aboriginal Medical Services) and the private rooms of mental health practitioners. In some cases, home visits are available.
Mental Health practitioners include psychologists, mental health social workers, mental health nurses, mental health occupational therapists and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers. Healthy Minds practitioners have agreed not to charge a gap fee, thus there is no cost for the person to receive Healthy Minds services.
Healthy Minds is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health, using both ATAPS (Access to Allied Psychological Services) and Better Access. This service is managed locally by the North Coast Primary Health Network (NCPHN).
To be eligible, the person must have an Australian Government Health Care Card and must live on the North Coast of New South Wales. There is no age limit; Healthy Minds services are for young children to older adults.
Healthy Minds is for people who are experiencing mild to moderate mental health concerns such as anxiety, depression, trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder as well as other common mental health conditions.
The types of therapies provided include cognitive behaviour therapy, interpersonal therapy, psycho-education and relaxation strategies.
Reports for medico-legal court matters cannot be provided by the Healthy Minds service.
Referral process for GPs, Psychiatrists and Paediatricians
Healthy Minds services are available on referral from a GP, Psychiatrist or Paediatrician. Referrals need to be accompanied by a mental health treatment plan.
On the referral form, a preferred Healthy Minds practitioner can be nominated from the practitioner lists at the top of the page.
Alternatively, the NCPHN can select an appropriate practitioner for the person seeking psychological support.
The only referrals that do not require a mental health treatment plan are for children under 12 years, where a child treatment plan is required. Children under 12 years should be experiencing, or at risk of developing an emotional or behavioural disorder.
When suicide is the prime mental health concern, referrals can be made to the Healthy Minds Suicide Prevention Service. The service provides intensive support for a two month period. People can access this service without a mental health treatment plan in place but must visit their GP for a mental health treatment plan within two weeks of referral.
Referrals should be faxed to our confidential fax: 1300 853 248
GPs will receive a confirmation when their referral has been forwarded to the mental health practitioner. Typically this occurs within two working days.
In line with standard processes, a progress report from the mental health practitioner should be provided to the referring GP after six sessions, and may include a recommendation for additional sessions.
Referral process for other health professionals and organisations
Eligible professionals are able to recommend that someone be referred to Healthy Minds. This is known as an Application for Referral and can be completed by:
- Maternal and child health nurses
- School Psychologists / Counsellors
- School Principals / Deputy Principals
- Directors of Early Childhood Services
- Hospital Accident and Emergency Department staff
- Hospital Acute Mental Health team
- Hospital ward discharge staff
- Mental health practitioners
- Medical Officers in non-government organisations
The person must still visit their GP for a referral and treatment plan. NCPHN supports the referral by writing to the GP and informing them that another professional has recommended a Healthy Minds referral to a mental health practitioner.
Community organisations are often well placed to identify people who could benefit from psychological support. Community organisations with a Healthy Minds practitioner on site are able to complete an application for a referral. Other community organisations that would benefit from having a mental health practitioner on site should contact the Healthy Minds team using the contact details below.