Mental illness and the NDIS - how does it work?

26 September 2016

The NDIS is designed to work alongside mainstream services such as health and education and to provide people with a disability supports to access them. It is not designed to replace them.  Mental health services will remain the primary responsibility of the health system in each state. So, for example, people with early signs of a psychiatric condition should still utilise the health system in the first instance, so that they can be diagnosed and the condition immediately managed.

However, the National Disability Insurance Scheme comes into play when mental illness results in a psychosocial disability.  ‘Psychosocial disability’ is a term used when someone’s mental illness impacts on their ability to participate fully in life – work, education, community participation. Impairments can include a loss of ability to function, think clearly, experience full physical health, and manage the social and emotional aspects of their life.

There are a number of criteria for accessing the NDIS with a mental disability:

  • Firstly, everyone entering the NDIS has to meet the access criteria for age, location etc.
  • Your psychiatric disability is likely to be permanent
  • You are unable to take part effectively in daily life without the assistance of others
  • You are likely to require support from the NDIS over your lifetime.

Evidence will need to be provided by a qualified medical professional about the severity of the condition and whether it’s likely to be permanent, plus whether the condition has already been addressed in the mainstream mental health system. If you don’t already have these, you will be asked to provide any relevant assessments in your planning meetings with the NDIA.

Here’s a snapshot of which departments are responsible for under the NDIS:

What the Health and Mental Health System will retain responsibility for:
What the NDIS is able to fund (supports that assist a person to undertake daily living activities) including:

Assessment, diagnosis and referral for people entering or exiting the State-based health system, including psychiatric conditions and mental illness

Assistance with planning and decision making and household tasks

Assistance with planning and decision making and household tasks

Assistance to build capacity to live independently and achieve goals, such as building social relationships and skills such as financial management

Assistance to build capacity to live independently and achieve goals, such as building social relationships and skills such as financial management

Supports to engage in community activities such as recreation, education, training and employment.

Supports to engage in community activities such as recreation, education, training and employment.

Participants can choose to access their funded supports through centre-based services, in-home, day services, community access and outreach services.

Participants can choose to access their funded supports through centre-based services, in-home, day services, community access and outreach services.

Please note: people with early signs of a psychiatric condition should still utilise the health system in the first instance, so that they can be diagnosed and the condition immediately managed.

For families and carers

The NDIS recognises the importance of informal supports provided by family members and other carers and funded supports can therefore be included in the participant’s plan that sustain that care. 

The types of things that can be included to sustain informal supports that may have benefits to carers include:

  • Personal care to support an individual in their home or community
  • Supports to assist people with psychosocial disability to enjoy social and community interaction without relying solely on you
  • Supports that maintain a carer’s health and wellbeing (for example, providing care to the person with a disability if you need to take a break away)
  • Assistance with tasks of daily living including to help improve a participant’s ability to do things (this could be learning to cook or hang out washing for example).
  • Training related to the caring role that may enhance your ability to provide support (many people utilise specialist behaviour support).

It’s important to remember that the NDIS is only responsible for supports which enable people with psychosocial disability to participate in everyday life so they can enjoy greater social inclusion and economic participation.

If you'd like assistance with your coping skills or in understanding and managing a psychosocial disability, please contact us on 1800 112 112 for a confidential conversation.

Contact us to find out how we can support you

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