Mental Health Services (formerly ATAPS) 

The Hunter Primary Care MHS program provides psychological counselling for people who may not have access to other mental health services due to financial barriers. People in the community who would benefit from our Mental Health Services include:

  • People who are not able to access Medicare funded mental health services
  • People who are less able to pay fees
  • Carers with a diagnosis of mental illness
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities
  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people
  • Children with or at risk of developing a mental disorder
  • People who have self harmed or attempted suicide or are at risk of suicide
  • Women experiencing psychological distress in the pre- or post-natal period
  • People under the age of 25 or over the age of 65
Common presenting issues that would be suitable include:

  • Depression
  • Bipolar (mild to moderate)
  • Adjustment issues relating to psychosocial stressors e.g. relationship breakdown, financial stress etc
  • Bereavement
  • Generalised Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Social Anxiety
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Specific phobias
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Traumatic stress
  • Eating disorders (early in presentation)
  • Substance abuse (often secondary to depression and/or anxiety symptoms)
  • Unexplained somatic complaints

For further presenting issues for children and families refer to Child Psychology Service program.

People not eligible for MHS include:

  • people with acute mental health needs that require hospitalisation or case management support.;
  • people with severe mental health illness such as acute psychotic disorders, severe eating disorders, or severe bipolar disorders;
  • people with dementia, delirium, tobacco use disorder, mental health disability disorders;
  • people with mental health disorders who will require longer periods of therapy to manage their condition; and
  • people who are receiving or have received the maximum number of sessions through the Better Access scheme.

People in these categories must be referred to more appropriate mental health services and/or specialised treatment services.

  • General Services: Providing access to effective treatment for people of all ages including children, with a mental illness who may not otherwise be able to access mental health care. People affected by past forced adoption are also able to access support.
  • Child Psychology Service: Supporting children under 12 years of age, who have or are at risk of developing, a mild to moderate mental health, behavioural or emotional disorder, who could benefit from short term focussed psychological strategies.
  • Suicide and Self-Harm (SSH) Program: Suicide Prevention Program: Assisting people who have self-harmed, attempted suicide or who have suicidal ideation.
  • Perinatal Service: Supports parents experiencing perinatal-related depression and anxiety during pregnancy and/or the first 12 months after the birth of their child.
  • YARN: Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander program: Providing culturally appropriate social and emotional wellbeing services for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Rural Services: Psychology services in the Port Stephens, Muswellbrook, and Scone areas
Psychological therapies we use are referred to as “Focused Psychological Strategies”.

These therapies have been shown to have the best outcomes when provided by experienced mental health professionals, combined with ongoing support from the GP.

For all people referred under MHS the mental health professional will provide one or more of the following focused psychological strategies:

  • Psycho-education (including motivational interviewing);
  • Cognitive-behavioural Therapy (including behavioural interventions such as behaviour modification, exposure techniques or activity scheduling; and cognitive interventions such as cognitive therapy);
  • Relaxation strategies (e.g. progressive muscle relaxation, controlled breathing);
  • Skills training (e.g. problem solving, anger management, social skills, communication training, stress management, parent management training); and
  • Interpersonal therapy (especially for depression).

Please send a completed GP mental health care plan and/or comprehensive referral letter to Hunter Primary Care Psychology Services on the confidential fax number (02) 4929 7072.

Referrals are reviewed daily by an experienced clinician, to ensure that our service is appropriate to meet the patient’s needs. In cases where we are unable to meet the patient’s needs, we will contact you to suggest a more appropriate service. To assist efficient processing of referrals, please provide comprehensive details of the assessment and treatment plan.

If you would like to speak to someone about a referral or are wondering whether a referral may be appropriate, please contact the Referral Management Team on (02) 4926 0529 (available every afternoon).

People are eligible for an initial six sessions with the option of a further six sessions after a GP review. In exceptional circumstances an additional 6 sessions are available.

Note: Exceptional circumstances are defined as a significant change in the person’s clinical condition or care circumstances which make it appropriate and necessary to increase the maximum number of services. It is up to the discretion of the referring practitioner, to determine that the person meets these requirements.

There is no cost to the patient to access any of the MHS programs.

For further information, please click on our attached brochure or contact our Referral Management team on (02) 4926 0529.