Today there are hundreds of thousands of Australians living with some type of mental health disorder. Mental health conditions come in many different forms. They can affect anybody in a wide variety of ways, from crippling social anxiety, depression and severe clinical disorders right through to post-traumatic stress and even eating disorders.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was created to serve Australians who suffer from a disability to increase their quality of life and promote independence. A mental health disorder is not always considered a disability, and only a small portion of Australians who suffer from mental health issues will be eligible for the NDIS.
There are other mental health organisations in place for Australians to receive assistance outside of the NDIS. If you require assistance or want more information on mental health services in Australia, speak to your local GP or visit websites such as Beyondblue.com.au or mhaustralia.org/need-help.
What is a psychosocial disability?
While not everyone who has a mental health problem will be eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, they may still receive assistance from the NDIS if their issue is classified as a psychosocial disability. A psychosocial disability is a term used to describe a disability arising from a mental health issue. The NDIS is likely to approve funding for a psychosocial disability or consider a person eligible if their mental health problem affects their ability to carry out activities in their daily lives.
Common Psychosocial disabilities might be:
- Cognitive Disorder (Neurological Disorder)
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD)
These conditions can range from mild to severe and affect a person’s ability to carry out everyday activities and lead an independent and fulfilling life.
Psychosocial disorders are complex and can be difficult to treat on an individual basis. If you think you might suffer from a type of disability linked to a psychosocial condition and need NDIS support, ask yourself
- Am I unable to interact with others?
- Am I unable to leave the house?
- Do I feel immense pressure and anxiety towards everyday tasks?
- Does my partner or loved one need to make all of my decisions for me because I am in no fit state to make them myself?
- Are my emotional or mental health issues interfering with my physical ability in some way?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you may have a psychosocial disability and can make an application for NDIS funding.
How does the NDIS support people with mental health?
What distinguishes the National Disability Insurance Scheme from other mental health services in Australia is that the NDIS does not provide treatment for the underlying cause of mental health issues. Instead, the NDIS is designed to support the person living with the condition to carry out daily tasks and improve their daily lives.
The support that the NDIS can provide is heavily dependent on individual circumstances and negotiated between the NDIS and the participant. The NDIS provides support wherever the participant’s disability has an impact on their day to day life. An NDIS participant may receive funding to assist with payments for equipment, services, charges for carers, or a combination of these.
Typical scenarios where an individual may receive psychosocial disability support are:
- Self-care assistance such as dressing, washing, cooking and personal care
- Managing resources such as rent or mortgage payments, managing finances and insurance
- Social and community participation services for personal social inclusion (e.g. social events, sporting activities).
- Building social confidence through coaching and mediation
- Different types of personal support such as emotional support, financial support and carer support.
- Safety and security support such as managing medication, medication adherence and avoiding isolation.
- Support for the individual’s family and carers, including respite care.
- Daily living activities where there are significant barriers to undertaking these activities (e.g. domestic duties).
- Assistance with dispute resolution to ensure that the individual’s rights are upheld.
- Assistance with the individual’s capacity to plan for their future without relying on others.
- Help to access vital services such as Centrelink, The Department of Transport, School and educational facilities
It’s important to remember that much of NDIS funding is tied to participant goals. So, it’s vital that the participant and their support network identify areas of their life where they would like to see improvement and set some goals around these before requesting funding.
Some examples of goals that the NDIS might fund could be
- I want to build enough confidence to partake in community sport and other opportunities.
- I want to be able to manage my finances independently
- I would like to be able to conduct my shopping independently
- I want to work on my social anxiety and communication skills
- I want to decrease my reliance on other people to carry out day to day tasks
- I want to improve my social inclusion by attending more social events.
- I would like to be able to access community and social services without the assistance of others
- I want to work with a therapist to help overcome depression or anxiety
- I want to develop strategies to manage stress and reduce adverse physical effects and improve mental and emotional wellbeing
Some tips to help get NDIS funding for mental health problems
If you feel like you may be eligible to receive funding for mental health issues, you need to provide evidence to support this. Keep records of anything that may have to do with your mental health condition. If you have been seeing a psychologist, a GP or a councillor, ask them to provide a written report on your situation. Be clear that you would like them to articulate how your mental health condition impacts your daily life and what they would recommend NDIS funding would be spent.
You can also keep things like receipts and any reports you’ve received in the past. If there have been incidents related to your mental health condition, make sure to keep a copy of any official documentation like medical, police or financial records.
Sometimes it helps individuals who suffer from a mental health illness to keep a diary of events and everyday struggles. A journal can help the NDIS, and your doctor, better understand what might be causing the condition and how it impacts your everyday life and mental wellbeing.
Speak to people around you and ask for help. Trying to get funding from the NDIS can be stressful, but with a bit of help, it can make the process a whole bunch easier. Ask your family, friends or primary carer if they can help you with the process. It can also be beneficial for them to provide a description to the National Disability Insurance Scheme on how they believe your mental illness is affecting your life. This description gives an outside perspective from the people closest to you, and it may also help you gain new insights for goal setting and priorities.
Plan out how you will reach your goals
Making a goal is often the easiest part of the entire goal process. But what the NDIS will look favourably on is if you have taken the time to think about the steps needed to reach it.
For example, if your goal is to build confidence to be able to play community sport, how will you reach that goal, and how will funding help?
Some steps to reaching that goal could be
- I will search for a psychosocial coach to help me build confidence
- I will work with the psychosocial coach
- I will practice the new skills my coach has been teaching me with friends
- I will work towards speaking to strangers in official roles like at Centrelink, school or work
- I will identify a sport I wish to play
- I will make contact with the sports team or community organisation
- I will attend a training session
- I will play the sport
And it also helps to think about what kind of support do you need to reach these steps. For example, when searching for a psychosocial coach, do you need a carer to make first contact? Do you have access to a phone, computer or the internet? Do you need a support worker to help you get started?
Or you have found your physical coach, but you need to catch public transport to them. Are you confident in catching transport on your own? Do you require assistance? Are you more comfortable having a coach attend you at home?
Try to think things through logically and show the NDIS that you have thought about the steps and how funding may impact their progression.
For more help or a second look at your steps and goals, speak to your local area coordinator (LAC) or a friend or family member. Remember, there’s always help available if you need it.
There is always help available for people with Mental Disabilities
If you do not qualify for NDIS funding for your mental health issues, there is help available no matter what state you live in and what your situation might be. Speak to your GP or visitMental Health Support Helpline in Australiawebsites such as Beyondblue.com.au, mhaustralia.org/need-help, https://www.lifeline.org.au/ or if you’re in a mental health crisis, call life line on 13114
Registered NDIS psychosocial recovery coach service provider in Australia
Registered NDIS mental health disability related health support in Australia
Registered NDISmental health support helpline in Australia
Registered NDIS mental health service provider in Australia