Creating a voice for the Disability Sector
Creating a voice for the Disability Sector
Accessing mental health help through the NDIS

Accessing mental health help through the NDIS

29 December 2021

Christmas/new year is a notoriously stressful time for many individuals and families - but sometimes particularly more so for National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants.

For those who have recently lost a loved one, Christmas can intensify existing feelings of grief and sadness.

Some people experience feelings of isolation, financial pressures or increased family conflict that can make this a very stressful time of year financially and socially.

This time of year could compound their already existing struggles and stresses which is why it is important they lean on their NDIS plans and services to get them through

The NDIS uses the term “psychosocial disability”  to describe a disability that may arise from a mental health issue and many participants on the Scheme have this assistance written into their plan.

Not everyone who has a mental health condition will have a psychosocial disability, but for people who do, it can be severe, longstanding and impact on their recovery.

People with a disability as a result of their mental health condition may qualify for the NDIS.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) is committed to improving the lives of people living with psychosocial disability.

The Psychosocial Disability Recovery-Oriented Framework (Recovery Framework) has been developed to ensure that the NDIS is more responsive to participants living with psychosocial disability, their families and carers.

The Recovery Framework is informed by research, submissions, consultations, articles, reports and policy documents, both nationally and internationally.

The Recovery Framework is also informed by the experiences of participants and their families and carers, service providers and state and territory governments.

However, to access the NDIS for psychosocial help, participants must complete an Evidence of Psychosocial Disability form (PDF 482KB) – to be completed by their most appropriate clinician, and support worker or appropriate person.

This evidence form makes it easier for people with a psychosocial disability and supporters to collect evidence for NDIS eligibility.

You still need a completed Verbal Access Request (VAR) or Access Request Form (ARF). This form is a collaboration with the Department of Social Services funded Transition Support Project team at Flinders University.

Everyone who applies to the NDIS must meet eligibility criteria. These include age, residency and disability requirements. You must also live in an area where the NDIS is being rolled out.

To find out more go to How to apply.

Psychosocial recovery coaches (recovery coaches) are available to support participants with psychosocial disabilities to live a full and contributing life.

Recovery coaches will support participants to take more control of their lives and to better manage the complex challenges of day-to-day living.

Recovery coaches will work collaboratively with participants, their families, carers and other services to design, plan and implement a recovery plan, and assist with the coordination of NDIS and other supports.

Participants will have the option of selecting a recovery coach with lived experience or a recovery coach with learnt knowledge of psychosocial disability and mental health.

Recovery coaches have been developed in consultation with people with lived experience of mental health issues, families and carers of people with mental health issues, Mental Health Australia and state and territory governments.

However, it is very important to note that while the NDIS will fund psychosocial help, it will not provide funding for participants to pay for a psychiatrist.

Participants requiring ongoing psychiatric help should consult their GP for advice on a Mental Health Care Plan which could help fund ongoing appointments.

The mental health system is generally responsible for clinical services such as diagnosis and treatments. The mental health system includes:

  • Government mental health departments, agencies, and services.
  • Patient care in public and private hospitals, inpatient mental health facilities, and other residential care.
  • Specialist doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists and health care professionals.
  • Community mental health care services.

The NDIS is generally responsible for supports that are not clinical in nature, and focus on:

  • Improving or maintaining your functional ability, and your recovery.
  • Helping you increase your independence.
  • Your social and economic participation.

The mental health system is responsible for:

  • Clinical acute mental health supports – care in a hospital or similar setting.
  • Clinical outpatient and continuing care – mental health care where you don’t stay in hospital.
  • Clinical rehabilitation and recovery for your mental health.
  • Clinical early intervention mental health supports, such as services to help children, teenagers and young people grow and develop.
  • Mental health residential services, where the main reason is treatment or rehabilitation, or where the staff are mainly clinical or medical.
  • Help with other issues or conditions you may have alongside a psychosocial disability, where the issue or condition is clearly the responsibility of another service system – this may include services funded by Medicare.

Reach out

There are several organisations that provide support and education for people with mental illness and their families and carers throughout Australia.

If you or a family member or a loved one need help urgently - please head to OUR STORY IN ALL THE CONTACT HELPLINES to talk to someone.


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