If you’re reading this, you might have recognised that you don’t quite feel like yourself. Life happens to everyone – sometimes things are great and sometimes they just aren’t.
When we talk about health and wellbeing, most of us think of our bodies and physical health. There is no doubt that a healthy body is vital to our wellbeing, but so is how we are feeling emotionally and mentally.
All of us go through periods where we feel stressed, overwhelmed and where our mood, motivation and energy levels are not going as well as we would like. It is normal to not always feel your best and for your mental wellbeing to shift and change over time .
But if you’ve noticed yourself finding things more challenging than usual – perhaps you have been feeling sad, confused and overwhelmed about the future and for a prolonged period of time (a few weeks or more) – then seeing a professional might be a helpful step towards supporting your mental health and wellbeing.
As an international student in Australia, your Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) can help you access support.
Check out our easy four step process:
Step 1: Understand what is covered under your OSHC
As an international student you are required to have OSHC for the duration of your stay in Australia. This would have been worked out prior to you arriving and is part of the requirements for studying here.
OSHC benefits are similar to what Australians receive through the national public health care system, Medicare. Some international students may even be eligible for reciprocal health care. Australia has agreements with 11 countries. Click here to see if yours is listed.
Otherwise, your OSHC cover should cover basic necessities like: in hospital and out-of-hospital medical assistance, prescription medications and emergency ambulance assistance .
We recommend touching base with your provider to see what type of medical appointments are fully covered or partially covered under your OSHC.
You can find their details below;
|Allianz Global Assistance (Peoplecare Health)||www.allianzassistancehealth.com.au/en/student-visa-oshc/|
|CBHS International Health||www.cbhsinternationalhealth.com.au/overseas-students-oshc|
Step 2: Make an appointment to see a General Practitioner (GP)
A General Practitioner (GP) is a great person to talk to about your wellbeing. They will listen, give advice and provide treatment options if you need it.
When you book your appointment make sure you ask them how much an appointment will cost and tell them you would like to talk about receiving a mental health care plan. That way your doctor can know in advance to set aside enough time for your appointment.
Most OSHC will cover some or all of the cost of seeing a GP – but depending on the doctor you see, you may have to pay a fee of $30-50. Be sure to call ahead to ask about this when you make your appointment .
Step 3: Talk to your GP about the options available in receiving a mental health care plan.
During your appointment, your GP will work with you to assess whether you will benefit from a mental health care plan. They will ask a few questions, fill in the plan and set goals with you.
Check out our blog here to understand more about how this process works. Essentially, a mental health care plan makes therapy more affordable and accessible. A mental health care plan might include:
- A referral to an expert, like a psychologist
- Advice on the types of mental health care that can support you
- Strategies to improve and maintain your mental health .
As part of this plan, your GP might suggest a mental health practitioner for you to see, or you can choose a mental health practitioner yourself.
If you would like to choose your own practitioner, Radiant can help you with this. We facilitate access to over 300 experienced counsellors and practitioners, so students like yourself can find the support you need during your time in Australia.
Step 4: Check your OSHC policy
Once your mental health care plan has been developed and you have found the right practitioner for you, it’s important to talk to your OSHC provider and ask them how to make a claim, how much money you can claim back and when.
If you’re a student with Medibank OSHC, you can call the Student Health and Support Line on 1800 887 283 at any time of the day or night. They’ll offer you advice and over-the-phone counselling as part of your cover. They also have an interpreter service so you can speak to someone in your own language.
If you are a student with Allianz OSHC you can call 13 67 42 and they’ll let you know which treatments are included in your policy.
For all others, contact them directly.
How much will it cost to see a mental health professional?
Every mental health professional is different, and the charges vary depending on their qualifications.
Counsellors and Psychotherapists tend to be more financially accessible, whereas Psychologists and Psychiatrists tend to cost a bit more.
To know how much it will cost, call your mental health professional beforehand to find out how much they charge. Then contact your OSHC provider and ask them how much money you can claim back.
From there, you will need to pay the gap fee. A gap fee is when the expense of the medical treatment is only partly covered by the health insurance. The part that is not covered by insurance is called the ‘gap’, and this is the amount you will need to pay.
For example, psychology is categorised under the specialist part of your cover. If the psychologist is registered under Medicare Benefit Schedule (MBS) then your OSHC may pay around 85%* of the MBS rates. Psychologists may also charge more than the MBS rate.
With a referral, the MBS fee for item 80110 (a Psychology visit) is $99.75. If you visit a psychologist that charges $140, and you have an OSHC that pays 85% of the MBS fee for specialists, you would get back $84.80, and your out-of-pocket cost would be $55.20.
Support is available, and people can want to help you. Remember that you are not alone and you can get through this.
 Headspace (2020), ‘What are mental health difficulties and when to seek help’
 Australian Government Department of Health (2020) ‘ Overseas Student Health Cover Fact Sheet’
 Australian Government Private Health (2020) ‘Overseas Student Health Cover’
 Study Melbourne (2020), ‘Overseas Student Health Cover’
 Services Australia (2021), ‘Mental health care and Medicare’
Headspace (2018), ‘How to get a mental health care plan’