Effective care remains front of mind for transition to Psychological Support Services

Our Access to Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS) program will transition to the Psychological Support Services (PSS) program on 1 December 2016.

Psychological Support Services will provide benefits for both patients and GPs and will ensure:

  • Provision of evidence based, short term psychological interventions. PSS is for people with a diagnosable mild to moderate mental illness or people who have attempted, or are at risk of, suicide or self-harm where access to other services is not appropriate.
  • Appropriately trained and qualified mental health professionals. Services will be 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.
  • Person-centred care. Mental health care services are delivered as part of a team approach, led by the patient and involving GPs, psychologists, psychiatrists, paediatricians, local health district services, community managed organisations, and other relevant agencies.
  • Reduced barriers to timely access to psychological services. While there is a requirement for a GP Mental Health Treatment Plan or a referral from a psychiatrist or paediatrician, there is some flexibility for provisional referrals for hard to reach populations to enable service provision to commence while arrangements are made for the patient to see a GP.
  • A stepped care approach. Matching the person to the most appropriate intervention, including number of sessions and ongoing referral recommendations post treatment if required. If PSS is not appropriate for the individual, recommendations will be given to the referer for other appropriate service pathways.

Key features of our Psychological Support Services Model

  • Referral Process - Referrals to PSS will require both the PSS Referral Form and Mental Health Treatment Plan (MHTP) to be sent via secure messaging or fax to the CESPHN Central Intake and Triage Service. Templates will be available on our website from 1 December.
  • Central intake and triage service. We will provide a single entry point for referrals into CESPHN primary mental health care services for underserviced groups. Referrals are assessed and matched to an appropriate intervention, then allocated to a provider taking into account patient needs.
  • Regionally based clinical assessment process. Our stepped care approach ensures patients reach the most appropriate services to meet their needs from low to high intensity service provision.
  • Supported by high quality client management system. Our Collaborative Care Management Solution software supports central intake and allocation, session data, financial management and the Minimum Data Set (MDS) reporting, required for the Department of Health.

PSS will deliver services to underserviced and/or hard to reach groups in the CESPHN region including:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • Children and young people
  • People from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • People who have attempted, or are at risk of suicide, or self-harm
  • Women experiencing perinatal depression
  • Other underserviced groups, including:
    • adults who are unable to access the MBS due to financial or other constraints
    • adults who are, or are at risk of becoming homeless
    • adults living within the following former local government areas that have been identified as experiencing high levels of psychological distress and/or low access to psychological services: Botany Bay, Canterbury, Hurstville, Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island, Rockdale and Strathfield.

Who in the targeted groups is eligible for PSS?

People in underserviced or hard to reach groups presenting with:

  • People presenting with mild to moderate mental illness and who are underserviced through other arrangements, particularly the MBS (i.e. Medicare subsidised psychological services through Better Access)
  • People who are experiencing socio-economic disadvantage
  • People for whom available services are not suitable 
  • People with severe mental illness who may benefit from short term, focused psychological intervention as part of their overall care
  • People with intellectual disability who may also benefit from short term psychological intervention when co-occurring mental illness is diagnosed.

Our approach

Our approach to commissioning PSS has been shaped by our needs assessment and through our co-design process, which has included GP, allied health and community.

Fact sheet