Further information to assist you regarding novel coronavirus COVID-19
The outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a rapidly evolving situation. As this situation continues to change, our priority is to care for all our clients and the local community. To support this, we will adhere to evidence-based advice and recommendations we receive from the Australian Psychological Society and the Federal Government.
We will aim to update our website if any significant changes occur to our 'business as usual' practice. You can also contact our helpful reception team for further advice regarding our services.
The impacts of COVID-19 on the community are widespread and maintaining good mental health remains a key factor in adapting to the changes ahead.
Are you still providing psychology services?
Yes, psychological services are considered an 'essential health service'. This means that the Federal Government recognises the importance of people being able to access professional assistance to manage their mental health and wellbeing during this time.
To maintain the health and safety of our clients and our team, we have made the transition to offer telehealth services. Currently, the option for face-to-face sessions is at the discretion of individual clinicians. The Happy Minds management team is regularly monitoring community transmission rates and Queensland Health directives. As such, the availability of face-to-face sessions can be changed at any time.
How can I access a psychologist with social distancing rules?
Health services, including psychology services, are able to provide services through telehealth options. Telehealth sessions can be provided via telephone or videochat (e.g. via FaceTime, Skype or Zoom platforms organised by your psychologist).
If a face to face session is scheduled, this requires clients to observe hand hygiene practices when arriving, to sit 1.5m from others, and to avoid close physical contact. We ask that child clients attend with only one adult if possible. Please leave siblings and older caregivers at home to reduce risks. As part of our coronavirus response plan, therapy rooms are cleaned after each session and the entire premises are given a thorough clean every day.
We have removed toys, magazines and books from the waiting room to help maintain hygiene practices. As such, we ask that you please consider bringing something along for any children who will spend time in the waiting room.
More information about Telehealth sessions can be found on this tip sheet from the Australian Psychological Society.
Am I eligible to use Telehealth for my session?
Telehealth options are available for any client. There are specific billing and rebate requirements for Medicare rebates, private health insurance rebates, and NDIS.
Anyone with a valid Medicare rebate plan (e.g. Better Access Mental Health Care Plan, Helping Children with Autism, etc.) can claim for Medicare to rebate a telehealth session. The Federal Government's October 2020 Budget has provided additional funding for people to access an additional 10 sessions under the Better Access Mental Health Care Plan Scheme (this makes a total of 20 rebated sessions in a 12-month period).
If you will be making a claim using private health insurance, providers have agreed to rebate individual (one on one) psychology telehealth consultations where:
The client is undergoing an existing course of treatment, and has seen the psychologist providing the consultation during the past six months, or
For new patients, the telehealth service has been recommended by their general practitioner (GP)
Please check with your individual health fund to confirm your rebate eligibility.
You can also choose to not use either Medicare or private health rebate schemes. For those individuals, the standard session rate will apply.
Clients with NDIS funding are able to access psychological services as per their plan using telehealth services where suitable.
I'm not sure telehealth would suit me / my child
It is completely understandable to be hesitant to use telehealth for psychology sessions. For some people, it may not be a suitable option due to the person's age / developmental stage, if they have a disability, if they have difficulties accessing a safe and private space to speak, etc. For these people, they may require face to face sessions to continue. However, telehealth services have been used successfully for many populations, including children and persons with a disability, and we encourage you to learn along with us in trying this alternative approach.
For many people, accessing telehealth consultations can provide opportunities to be innovative and adaptive. Telehealth has been used to support rural and remote communities and special populations for many years with similar effectiveness as face to face sessions. There are some practical considerations that need to be planned to help ensure the session goes well. These can include:
having access to a laptop, phone or tablet that has a working webcam/camera and audio function
- having the hardware (e.g. laptop, phone, tablet) charged with software updated
using headphones where possible to reduce noise and maintain confidentiality
finding activities for siblings to do so they do not distract the child during the session
More information about Telehealth sessions can be found on this tip sheet from the Australian Psychological Society. Please contact us with any specific questions regarding your situation and how we can help you to prepare for your telehealth session.
Where can I get more information about how to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The Australian Psychological Society (APS) has developed helpful resources for people to manage their mental health and wellbeing. These resources are available here: https://www.psychology.org.au/COVID-19-Australians
The mental health professional community has been developing resources to assist the community during this time. A selection has been provided here. There are many other resources being developed and shared throughout the community. We gently remind you to be discerning about the accuracy of information and to use trusted sources.
My Hero Is You - Storybook for children on COVID-19 (multiple translations)
Autism-specific resources (all ages):
Autism Spectrum Australia: Helping you Navigate COVID-19
Autism Speaks: Resources and information during COVID-19
For Adults / Caregivers:
World Health Organization: Doing What Matters in Times of Stress
Head to Health is a support hub with resources and support for all ages: Head to Health COVID-19
COVID Coach app is free, secure and evidence-based: COVID Coach
YouTube clip for adults and older adolescents: F.A.C.E. C.O.V.I.D.
1-2-3 Magic Parenting: The Coronavirus Manual for Parents