Confidentiality & Mental Health Treatment Plans
Before you enter into a Mental Health Treatment Plan there are a few things you should know about which could have significant consequences later in your life.
For a great many people, when they decide that the time has come to seek help for their mental health, the first step is usually to make an appointment to see their GP for a consultation. It is there that their GP will work with them to write a Mental Health Treatment Plan and provide a referral to particular mental health specialists such as a Psychologist, Social Worker, Occupational Therapist or a Psychiatrist.
A Mental Health Treatment Plan is a strategy that looks at your mental health and what your goals are. It will give you treatment options and a range of support services to be able to reach these goals. They may also prescribe antidepressant or antipsychotic medication -depending on your circumstances- along with psychological treatment.
One of the things your GP may offer is a government rebate benefit which is available through Medicare to help fund part of the cost. In order to qualify for these benefits, you usually just need to have a Mental Health Treatment Plan from your GP and a referral. It may qualify you for reimbursement of a significant proportion of treatment fees for up to 10 sessions (in some cases 20 sessions) per calendar year. While this may initially seem tempting, there are some drawbacks which could potentially affect you later in life that you need to be aware of.
You ought to be aware that whenever Medicare or private health insurance is used, your private information, psychiatric diagnosis (yes, you need a diagnosis to receive the rebate), presenting issues, treatment plan and progress reports are available to a range of government authorities including any private health insurance company that you might also intend to claim upon; and in some circumstances, to employers, adoption agencies and to various quasi-governmental authorities here in Australia and potentially when travelling abroad in some countries
Furthermore, Medicare and private health insurance, and employee assistance programs, often ask for detailed personal information about clients in order to make payment decisions. This review can undermine a client’s sense of privacy and confidentiality necessary for effective psychotherapeutic treatment.
Essentially, once one has a Mental Health Treatment Plan diagnosis, it becomes part of one’s health records – forever. Thus, that information stays on your medical file which could potentially affect:
- Life insurance coverage – you may be deemed an unacceptable risk or have to pay a higher premium;
- An employment position within a field that requires a mental evaluation such as the police force or ambulance service, education, working with children, the aviation industry and many other occupations requiring dealings with the public;
- In some States and Territories a diagnoses of a mental health issue could even effect your driver’s licence conditions;
- And, perhaps even more disturbingly, it is not uncommon for Mental Health Treatment Plans to be weaponised in Family Law proceedings where one party might attempt to use a diagnosis of even the slightest issue to leverage a better legal position for themselves.
Here is some interesting information from Maurice Blackburn Lawyers in relation to how mental illness can affect life insurance policies and what your rights are:
When applying for a stand-alone policy, you need to disclose any mental health issues you’ve had. As a result, you might see a hike in your insurance premium, or you may face a mental health exclusion, which means you can’t get insurance cover on claims that relate to your mental health.
For example, we recently represented a client who experienced depression during a divorce in his 20s. He made the choice to see a psychologist and take antidepressants. When he later applied directly to an insurer for disability insurance, the company rejected his application because of his prior mental health issues.
You don’t have to tell your employer about a medical problem unless it poses a risk to your workplace safety. If you have a mental health issue, you should discuss it with your doctor before deciding to inform your employer. Although most employers may be sympathetic and understanding, this isn’t always the case. It’s not unusual for employees who disclose a mental health condition to face discrimination. This can include:
- being targeted for redundancy;
- being overlooked for promotion;
- being demeaned or ridiculed;
- not receiving a pay rise.
Indeed, there has been widespread criticism of the need to label someone with a Mental Health Treatment Plan diagnosis which some professionals believe is leading to the pathologisation of everyday concerns because many people undergo psychotherapeutic treatment for emotional, psychological and spiritual growth to help cope with ordinary ups-and-downs life situations, marriage and family difficulties, and as well to cope with ordinary grief and bereavement.
Additionally, you want to be able to choose your own therapist, and the style of therapy best suited to your own particular circumstances. Medicare and most health insurance companies can, in some cases, drastically limit your choice of therapist (potentially requiring you use one of their ‘preferred providers’) which in some cases limits the types of therapy you can have despite there being other therapies potentially more suited to your particular condition.
The importance of establishing a therapeutic relationship with a therapist of your choosing is a vital step in the recovery process and for the relationship to be productive, trust is key. For example, a person seeking a therapist must be comfortable with his or her therapist and trust that they has the knowledge, skill set, and desire to provide appropriate care. Since the balance of power in the therapeutic relationship greatly favours the therapist, a person in treatment must also trust that confidential matters will remain confidential, and that he or she is safe from harm or exploitation at the hands of the therapist.
Understandably, most of our clients who work in high-profile professions prefer to engage our services privately so as to ensure a higher level of confidentiality. Of course everybody’s needs are different and there is not a one suits all plan for treatment.
We believe it is important that any person considering entering into a Mental Health Treatment Plan in order to obtain Medicare and/or private health insurance rebates need to be fully aware of the potential consequences before doing so.
Should you require an further information please do not hesitate to contact us.
While it is never too late to seek out professional help, the sooner you do the better the possibility of assisting you identify and alleviate the problems affecting you.
We at CBT Counselling & Psychotherapy look forward to helping you.
If you’ve decided it’s time to seek out a counselling, then you’ve already done the hardest part by recognising that you could use support with your mental health or an emotional issue.
To help you decide if you are ready to begin therapy, we offer a free 10-minute phone consultation in which we can discuss the problems you are experiencing and how counselling and psychotherapy might benefit you.
Of course, you will have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have, and together we can decide whether ours is the best counselling and therapy service for you.
To book your free phone consultation, please click on the button below:
The information provided on this website (www.cbtcounselling.com.au) is offered as general educational content only. The information herein should not be considered as advice, nor should it be used to treat, assess or diagnose a psychological condition, nor should it be used as an alternative to obtaining professional advice, diagnosis or assessment from a mental health professional.
In severe cases of a mental health disorder, including severe cases of any those disorders described herein, or any others such as bipolar disorder, psychosis or schizophrenia, medication may need to be prescribed to the sufferer. Only a Psychiatrist can legally prescribe medications to address such disorders, for example antipsychotic drugs and antidepressants.
If at any time you are concerned about your personal safety or the safety of another person, please contact your local hospital emergency department, or otherwise contact emergency services on 000 for immediate assistance. Where there is not an immediate emergency ‘Lifeline’ may also be able to provide assistance on 13 11 14.
Should you require any further information about our counselling and psychotherapeutic services, you can phone or email our clinic via the ‘Contact Us‘ / ‘Phone‘ buttons displayed on your screen.
 Medicare rebates are not usually available for Counsellors; however, depending on your private health fund and level of cover, you may be able to claim on your insurance — it is worth calling your insurer to check if you are covered for Counselling. To learn more about the services available under a Mental Health Treatment Plan please click on the following link
 Read this chilling account of Federal Magistrate Judy Ryan – “Mental Health and Family Law – A Question of Degree” (FMCA)  FedJSchol 2 – “It is widely accepted that separation and divorce rank among life’s most traumatic experiences, for adults and children. In children there is an increased risk of acute distress, depression and behaviours that are often regarded as stemming from poor self-esteem. For adults there are increased rates of depression, substance abuse, suicidal behaviour and anxiety. Thus, it is not surprising that people who are vulnerable to mental illnesses appear reasonably frequently in family law courts. When it is raised, mental illness is often a pivotal issue in the determination of parenting cases, or the case is prepared as though it is. In property proceedings the issue usually centres on matters of capacity and future needs. In this paper I will discuss the applicable law for determination of cases involving mental illness including practice and procedure.” To read Justice Ryan’s full paper please click on the following link:
The therapeutic relationship – Another contingent feature of the humanistic counselling process is an emphasis on the centrality of the therapeutic relationship in therapeutic change. Whether one identifies with Person-centred Therapy as his/her primary theoretical base or not, most counsellors would acknowledge the importance of Rogers’ core conditions of therapeutic change (unconditional positive regard, genuineness, and empathy) as being fundamental to the counselling process and central to the establishment and maintenance of the therapeutic relationship (Asay & Lambert, 1999; Rogers, 1957). The primacy of the therapeutic relationship also holds a central place within psychoanalytic and psychodynamic theory and practice (Shedler, 2010). While humanistic and psychoanalytic/psychodynamics theorists focus on different aspects of the therapeutic relationship, they have in common the view that the relationship is more primary than technique. Based on these foundations, the counselling and psychotherapy profession recognised the essential place that the therapeutic relationship has in therapeutic change well before the existence of the overwhelming research evidence to support it (Bordin, 1976, 1994; Horvath, 2009). While there is broad recognition across other mental health professions of the importance of the therapeutic relationship, recognition of its centrality within the therapeutic change process remains a defining feature of counselling.
Author: Tim Pratten
Principal CBT Counselling & Psychotherapy
Title: Confidentiality & Mental Health Treatment Plans