Sandri Galea, Epidemiologist and Dean of Public Health at Boston University who studied the impacts of the SARS epidemic, has reported that COVID-19 has the potential to have devastating and far-reaching effects on the mental health of the public.

In a recent statement, Lifeline reported that the number of Australians caaling Lifeline in distress has risen substantially (from 23% to 39%) in response to COVID-19. This follows a previous increase of almost 15% in calls during the Australian bushfires.

Now, more than ever, do we need to be proactive in our approach to mental health with early detection and education being highlighted as crucial first steps. With item numbers for the development and/or review of a Mental Health Care Plan, Eating Disorder Management Plan, and Chronic Disease Management Plan now available via phone/video conferencing, our trusted General Practitioners have an important role to play in reducing the rates of suicide and mental illness during the pandemic.

The relevant Telehealth item numbers are summarised below.

ServiceExisting items
(for face to face)
Telehealth items
(via videoconference)
Telephone items
(via telephone)
Mental Health Services
GP without mental health skills training, preparation of a GP mental health treatment plan, lasting at least 20 minutes, but less than 40 minutes27009211292124
GP without mental health skills training, preparation of a GP mental health treatment plan, at least 40 minutes27019221392125
Review of a GP mental health treatment plan or Psychiatrist Assessment and Management Plan27129221492126
GP with mental health skills training, preparation of a GP mental health treatment plan, lasting at least 20 minutes, but less than 40 minutes27159221692128
GP with mental health skills training, preparation of a GP mental health treatment plan, at least 40 minutes27179221792129
Eating Disorder Management
GP without mental health skills training, preparation of an eating disorder treatment and management plan, lasting at least 20 minutes, but less than 40 minutes902509214692154
GP without mental health skills training, preparation of an eating disorder treatment and management plan, at least 40 minutes902519214792155
GP with metal health skills training, preparation of an eating disorder treatment and management plan, lasting at least 20 minutes, but less than 40 minutes902529214892156
GP with mental skills training, preparation of an eating disorder treatment and management plan, at least 40 minutes902539214992157
Review of an eating disorder treatment and management plan902649217092176
Chronic Disease Management
Preparation of GP management plan (GPMP)7219202492068
Coordination of Team Care Arrangements (TCAs)7239202592069

More information about the bulk billing requirements and incentives can be found here.