Psychological Support Services (PSS)

Mental Health Central Intake

1300 170 554 | 

What is PSS and who can use it?

PSS (formerly known as ATAPS) provides FREE short-term face to face psychological services for underserviced groups. Services are delivered by appropriately trained and qualified mental health professionals including: Psychologists (general and clinical), mental health nurses, mental health accredited social workers, mental health accredited occupational therapists and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health workers.


 PSS is for individuals who live, work or study in the Central and Eastern Sydney region with diagnosable mild to moderate mental health concerns, who may benefit from short term treatment but are unable to Access other available services including Better Access (Medicare subsidised psychological services). This service is for people experiencing financial hardship (Individual income < $55,000; family income < $130,000), and would not be better suited for people looking for crisis or specialist domestic violence services, or involved in court or insurance matters AND who fit into one of the below underserviced and/or hard to reach populations:

  1. Children (who are aged between 0-12 years who have not yet graduated from primary school) with, or who are at risk of developing a mild to moderate, mental, emotional or behavioural disorder 
  2. Young people (12-25 years) 
  3. Adults
  4. Individuals who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer/Questioning (LGBTIQ) 
  5. Individuals experiencing perinatal depression and their partners
  6. Individuals who identify as from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background
  7. Individuals who identify as from a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) background 
  8. Individuals who have attempted, or who are at risk of suicide, or self-harm 
  9. Individuals experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness
  10. Individual with severe mental health concerns who may benefit from short term focused psychological intervention as part of their overall care.
  11. Individuals with mild Intellectual disability who may benefit from short term psychological intervention when co-occurring mental health concerns are diagnosed.


SPS Eligibility Criteria

PSS SPS is designed to provide support to people in the community who are at increased risk of suicide or self-harm. However, PSS SPS is not designed to support individuals who are at acute and immediate risk of suicide or self-harm, who should be referred immediately to the relevant state or territory government acute mental health team (or equivalent).  In considering an individual’s eligibility for this service, providers should consider the complexity of the individual’s circumstances and the number of contributing factors. Consideration should also be given to the short-term nature of the PSS SPS and whether the individual is more appropriately supported by the state or territory acute mental health service. If in any doubt as to the immediacy of risk of the patient, the mental health professional (MHP) is to contact the acute mental health team. This project is not intended to have the MHP take on the crisis intervention role, nor replace existing local acute mental health services. New South Wales: Access and referral to Acute Mental Health Care Services are via The Mental Health Line Ph: 1800 011 511

PSS SPS is for individuals 18 years and over who have attempted suicide or who have heightened suicidal ideation and are being supported in the primary health care setting, therefore no longer considered at acute risk.

This service is primarily designed for 4 groups of people:

1.  Individuals who, after an attempted suicide and have been discharged into the care of a MP from hospital, or released into the care of a MP from an acute care team (ACT) or an Emergency Department/Psychiatric Emergency Care Centre (PECC)

2. Individuals who have presented to acute care team or PECC after an attempted suicide or incident of self-harm, and discharged to the community

3. Individuals who have presented or expressed strong suicidal ideation or an incident of self-harm to their MP

4. Individuals who are on general PSS and have appropriately been stepped up.

This Service may also provide support to those who are considered at increased risk in the aftermath of a suicide.

The SPS Program is NOT:

  • A crisis service or designed to replace acute care services
  • For individuals with an individual suicide risk rating of the following, who need to be referred to acute care or appropriate services:
    • Assertive Follow-up Services - Individual has recently attempted suicide, and based on my clinical judgement, requires assertive, community-based, case coordination to keep them safe.
    • Imminent Risk - The person is at imminent risk of suicide. Based on my clinical judgement this person requires immediate / urgent assistance.


GP Referral Forms

Referral forms are required to access all PSS programs.

To access PSS programs all referrals are required to be submitted online or via Healthlink (ID:  CESPHNMH).

GP referrals for adults and children
 Best PracticeMedical Director Online
PSS Initial Referral and Mental Health Treatment Plan for adults and children Best Practice template download Medical Director template download 2019015 icons 22
PSS Review Referral and Mental Health Treatment Plan for adults and children Best Practice template download Medical Director template download 2019015 icons 22

  pdf Click here (708 KB) to download the instruction manual to import BP forms. 

  pdf Click here (733 KB) to download the instruction manual to import MD forms.

The referral form includes a mental health treatment plan, K10+ and Risk Assessment which must always be signed by a GP. The referral will then be allocated to an appropriate mental health professional and the GP will be notified of the outcome via email. Should a referral get declined, the GPs will receive communication from CESPHN Intake and Triage team.

For more information about Youth Mental Health Referral Options please pdf click here (186 KB)

Find our PSS providers here.

Healthlink ID: CESPHNMH

Watch this video about "How to complete an online PSS referral form"



Provisional referrals

A provisional referral allows for a certain number of sessions to be approved (depending on the referral type, see below) for an assessment with a PSS registered mental health professional prior to development of a GP Mental Health Treatment Plan. Should sessions continue after the provisional session(s) have been completed, the client will need to see their GP for an initial PSS referral and Mental Health Treatment Plan before further sessions can be approved.

Download a list of the registered PSS mental health providers.

Download a list of folder provider organisations.

 Provisional referrers includeProvisional sessions allowedOnline
Children (0 – 12 years and under)
  • School Counsellors
  • School Principal/Deputy
  • Directors of Early Childhood Services
  • Managers in NGOs
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Adolescents (12 – 25 years)
  • School Counsellors
  • School Principal/Deputy 
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Perinatal Depression Maternal and Child Health Nurses 2 2019015 icons 22
Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • Aboriginal Health Workers
  • House Parents of Kirinari Hostel (Sylvania)
  • School Counsellors
  • School Principal/Deputy
  • Managers in NGOs 
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Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD)
  • Multicultural Community Health Liaison Officers
  • Managers in NGOs
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Suicide Prevention (non-acute)  Acute mental health teams Unlimited sessions for 2 months (approximately 12 sessions) 2019015 icons 22


PSS Groups
Referral Process for PSS Groups 


Under the Psychological Support Services (PSS) program, PSS clients may access group-based psychological therapies in a twelve month period from initial referral.

When referring new clients; PSS eligibility will apply. 


1) For referrals please complete and submit online. 

2) Select Mental Health Services (PICS, PSS, RACF) and Psychological Support Services.  

3) Tick Group Referral and type the name of the PSS Group.

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 Psychological Support Services (PSS) PND & COS groups

 Groups are near completion for 2020. Availability for Groups in 2021 will be communicated.

PSS Groups Download PDF about groups
Online Referral link
Tresillian PND, COS group 
TBC 2019015 icons 22
Circle of security - Group for dads ( 4 week program) TBC
 Dialectical Behaviour Therapy 

Groups are near completion for 2020. Availability for Groups in 2021 will be communicated.

 What are DBT groups? 

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) group therapies are provided in the CESPHN region for people experiencing severe or complex mental health issues. DBT is an evidence-based program that is designed to reduce ineffective coping strategies linked to dysregulated emotions, that are present in several mental health disorders. 

The Sydney DBT skills program aims to create a life worth living and works to enhance skills and help reduce emotional dysregulation and interpersonal conflict. This 20-week DBT skill is run at Newtown and Sutherland. For more information please visit here.


To be eligible to attend participants need to live within the CESPHN region and meet the following criteria.

  • One or more incidents of self-harm in the last twelve months; or persisting suicidal ideation. 
  • one or more hospital admissions for mental health issues in the last twelve months. 
  • Be currently or willing to engage in individual therapy
  • Have or willing to have a regular GP
  • Not currently suffering from active psychosis
  • Does not have a primary drug and alcohol problem

This program is recommended to support people with a lived experience of self-harm, suicidality, borderline personality disorder or severe depression for whom a short-term psychological intervention as part of their overall care may provide benefit. Participants will be assessed to ensure that the program will meet their needs prior to being accepted.

Participants also need to be engaged in regular individual therapy that can support the application of the DBT skills in the participant’s everyday life.

Services are limited to location, availability, and group capacity in the CESPHN region. 

How to access the service?

All referrals are to be sent to the CESPHN Mental Health Central Intake team via the CESPHN Online Services Referral Form. Referrals will be allocated via the Client Information Management System (CIMS) to Sydney Clinical Psychology. Participants will be assessed by Sydney Clinical Psychology to ensure that the program will meet their needs prior to being accepted. 

  • All referrals must come through CESPHN Mental Health Central Intake team via PSS  Online Referral Form.

Who can refer to the service?

  • Requests for services can come from a variety of sources including hospitals and GPs in the CESPHN region  
  • For information about referrals, group dates, registration, availability and waitlists please contact Michelle Doherty 


Who will deliver the service?


Sydney Clinical Psychology








Better Access and PSS

Department of Health guidance re Better Access and PSS

In the instance where a patient has received the 10 psychological therapy services available under Better Access through the Medicare Benefits Schedule initiative and considered to clinically benefit from additional services, the person may be eligible for PHN funded Psychological Therapies if they meet the relevant eligibility criteria.

Further information from the MBS is available here (Item number 2712).

To access these additional services, the following applies for the CESPHN region:

  • Client must be eligible for PSS
  • Sessions can only be delivered by PSS registered mental health professionals sub contracted/employed by one of the CESPHN commissioned providers
  • Referral to accompany the original Mental Health Treatment Plan used to access Better Access with a review from the GP for exceptional circumstances (Item number 2712)
  • CESPHN Central Intake will triage eligibility and will notify the GP of the outcome of the referral
  • Only valid for 12 months from the date on the initial Mental Health Treatment Plan

Please note: Gap payment cannot be charged for these services.

Residents and staff of aged care facilities 

The Commonwealth Government has provided funding through regionally-based Primary Health Networks to commission new mental health services for older people with mental illness who reside in Residential Aged Care Facilities. This will help to address a current gap in services for this group of people and offer access to psychological services which are like those available to people with mental illness in the community under Medicare arrangements.

CESPHN has received funding from the Department of Health to commission Mental Health services for people living in Residential Aged Care Facilities in the central and eastern Sydney region. In phase 1, CESPHN is offering a number of RACFs the opportunity to receive initial services until June 2019. Further services will be rolled out incrementally after this date.

Mental health professionals including psychologists, social workers, and mental health nurses, will be able to deliver these services to residents. Access to the new services will generally require a diagnosis of a mental illness. The new services are intended to target the needs of residents with mild to moderate mental illness.

The benefits for RACF residents from accessing needed psychological services are expected to include mood improvements, reduction in anxiety and stress, and increased ability to cope with life changes. Residents with mental illness will be more likely to engage in activities and social connections at the facility if they receive treatment appropriate to their needs.

For further information contact Riva Sekhon@



Frequently Asked Questions
What are the changes from ATAPS to PSS?

Under PSS, the providers no longer are directly employed by CESPHN. A consortium model has been created so that each provider is allocated to a provider organisation. Only these providers are able to deliver PSS services. A new referral form compliant with Department of Health guidelines including a K10+, Risk Assessment and other Minimum Data Set (MDS) must be submitted to access the service.

How many sessions will they be eligible for?

Clients are eligible for 12 individual sessions (Up to 18 sessions if approved for exceptional circumstances) and 12 group sessions in a twelve month period from initial referral. The number of sessions may vary for Suicide Prevention referrals.

How long will the referral process take?

On average, the referral will take 5 working days. The provider will be in contact with the client after the allocation has occurred to set an appointment.

Will clients be able to change providers?

Yes, the clients or the referring GP may request a transfer of PSS provider.

What item numbers should I use?

The item numbers are on top of the PSS Referral forms. For further information please visit the Department of Health page.

Do I need a Medicare or Healthcare card to access PSS?

No, however, clients need to meet PSS criteria.

How do I provide feedback?

Via the website and/or contacting the mental health manager.

What is the difference between a child treatment plan and a mental health treatment plan?

The child treatment plan does not include a K10+ with additional Risk Assessment tools. It allows for the GP to claim for a long consult as with a regular MHTP but does not trigger the item number.

How to become a PSS provider?

The provider organisations are the consortium organisations that deliver the services. Each provider is part of a provider organisation. pdf Click here (77 KB)  for provider organisations.