Your browser has 'Cookies' disabled, alert boxes will continue to appear without this feature.


5 February 2018

Message from the Chair

Hello from the General Practice Mental Health Standards Collaboration (GPMHSC) and welcome to the summer edition of the GPMHSC e-newsletter.

I am excited to let you know that I will be taking part in a webinar with the Mental Health Professionals Network in March that will use the GPMHSC’s Practice guide: Communication between medical and mental health professionals as the basis for discussion. Look out for our email detailing further information for registration.

We are now a year into the 2017–19 triennium and I am pleased to see that there are good numbers of general practitioners (GPs) now accredited with Mental Health Skills Training (MHST) or registered with Medicare as a new provider of Focussed Psychological Strategies (FPS). We look forward to seeing these numbers increase over the next two years.

If you are interested in becoming a provider of FPS, take a look at this short video for more information.

A reminder to all current providers of FPS – complete your required FPS Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activity by the end of 2019 to remain compliant and registered with Medicare into the next triennium. You can find a number of mental health and FPS CPD activities available and accredited by the GPMHSC in this newsletter.

For training providers, meeting dates for the GPMHSC Committee for 2018 are now online. This is an excellent time to develop new mental health training activities as programs that receive GPMHSC accreditation over the next few months can be rolled out until the end of 2019.

This year marks the beginning of the GPMHSC Quality Assurance Program. This is designed to offer training providers an avenue for receiving feedback on aspects of activities that could be improved. It also ensures that accredited activities continue to be delivered at GPMHSC’s educational standards. The secretariat will be visiting randomly selected MHST and FPS Skills Training activities until the end of 2019. Training providers will be notified in advance of attendance by the secretariat.

And as a final word, one of the key factors that sets apart GPMHSC-accredited training from others is the vital role that mental health consumers and carers play an in GP mental health education. Training providers should read below on how to ensure you meet the requirements when working with these key stakeholders in the development of GPMHSC-accredited training.

Assoc Prof Morton Rawlin

Reminder – Maintaining your FPS provider eligibility

Focussed Psychological Strategies (FPS) providers are reminded to schedule an FPS CPD activity for completion before 31 December 2019. This is important in maintaining FPS provider eligibility in the 2017–19 triennium while keeping your FPS skills and knowledge up to date. There are several programs available, including online and face-to-face options.

View the accredited FPS CPD courses.

$53 million for new mental health research

The Australian Government announced in late 2017 that it will provide more than $53 million for new research into better treatment, prevention and care for Australian patients facing mental health challenges. With mental health now included as a key pillar in the National Long-Term Health Plan, 47 projects will obtain funding across Australia.

The projects include studies of the physical and emotional health of Indigenous Australians, the use of smartphones to prevent and better understand the onset of mental health problems and a school-based program to prevent substance abuse, anxiety and depression in young people.

Find out more through the Department of Health (DoH) website.

Latest mental health services report

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIWH) released the latest web report on mental health services in Australia last December. The latest web report provides an overview of mental health care and the needs of Australians.

Read the report on the AIHW website.

Invitation to participate in research

The Black Dog Institute is conducting a study to explore the gaps in the mental health service provision in Australia. This study aims to obtain feedback from Australian health professionals on possible new services to be provided by the Black Dog Institute. 

Additionally, if you have referred patients to the Black Dog Institute Depression Clinic, the survey will query your satisfaction of the depression clinic.

For more information about the project, please visit the survey website.

Psychological services through telehealth

New Medicare item numbers for psychological telehealth were launched on 1 November 2017. The items provide access to psychological therapies for rural and remote patients via video conference. Up to seven of the 10 consultations under a GP Mental Health Treatment Plan can be conducted through video conferencing. 

Under the new item, to facilitate a personal connection with the treating allied health professional, it is a requirement that one of the first four sessions is delivered face to face.

The DoH developed guidelines and collated frequently asked questions for key stakeholders. Find out more through the DoH website.

New mental health portal

'Head to Health' is a new website developed in collaboration with the community, the mental health sector and the DoH. It links Australians to online and phone services, information and resources on mental health.

Visit the 'Head to Health' website for more information.

Spotlight on accredited training (until May)

Check the RACGP GPMHSC website for further details.


GP Mental Health Skills Masterclass
Saturday 3 February Melbourne
Saturday 10 February – Brisbane
Delivered by Psych Scene

Mental Health Skills Training Primary Pathway
Saturday 24 February
55 Russell Street, South Brisbane
Delivered by Checkup

Mental health disorders training for rural practitioners
Thursday 1 March
Tuesday 1 May

Delivered by the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine 

Depression dilemmas
Saturday 10 March Randwick
Saturday 24 March – Alice Springs
Delivered by Black Dog Institute

Dealing with depression
Wednesday 21 March – Wollongong
Friday 23 March – Wollongong
Friday 6 April – Newcastle
Thursday 12 April – Canberra
Tuesday 17 April – Liverpool
Thursday 19 April – Liverpool
Friday 20 April – Liverpool
Monday 23 April – Liverpool
Friday 4 May – Brisbane
Delivered by Black Dog Institute

Perinatal in practice
Saturday 7 April – Mt Gambier
Saturday 28 April – Brisbane
Delivered by Black Dog Institute

Dealing with depression in rural Australia
Tuesday 3 April – Dubbo
Friday 4 May – Wagga Wagga
Delivered by Black Dog Institute

Dealing with adolescent depression
Saturday 5 May – Randwick
Delivered by Black Dog Institute

Mental Health Skills Training with a focus on youth mental health
Delivered online until Tuesday 31 Dec 2019 by gplearning 

Mental Health CPD

Safe Assessment and Management of the Aggressive Patient (SAMAP)
Thursday 22 February – Karratha
Delivered by Rural Health West

Talking about suicide in general practice
Tuesday 27 February – Penrith
Tuesday 20 March – Lithgow
Delivered by Black Dog Institute

Advanced training in suicide prevention
Saturday 10 February – Whyalla
Saturday 10 February – Islington
Saturday 17 February – Grafton
Saturday 3 March – Blue Mountains
Saturday 3 March – Inverell
Saturday 10 March – Wyoming
Saturday 17 March – Randwick
Saturday 7 April – Lithgow
Saturday 14 April – Belmont
Saturday 5 May – Salamander Bay
Saturday 5 May – Narooma
Saturday 5 May – Ulverstone
Delivered by Black Dog Institute


Accessible Focussed Psychological Strategies Skills Training
Starting Monday 12 February
Starting Monday 16 April
Delivered online by RACGP Rural

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Counselling Skills for GPs – Day 1, 2 and 3
Friday 20 April – College House, West Leederville
Delivered by RACGP Western Australia


Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) Level A training
Sunday and Monday 11–12 February – Rydges Camperdown  
Delivered by The University of Sydney – Discipline of Psychiatry at Westmead Clinical School

Managing bipolar disorder
Saturday 24 February – Innisfail
Delivered by Black Dog Institute

Dealing with anxiety disorders
Saturday 3 March – Brisbane City
Saturday 24 March – Melbourne
Delivered by Black Dog Institute

Meeting dates for 2018

Meeting dates for the GPMHSC Committee for 2018 are now available. Please observe the draft and final submission due dates when applying. 

Now is an excellent time to develop new mental health training activities – programs that receive GPMHSC accreditation over the next few months can be rolled out until the end of 2019. Training providers who are thinking of developing new activities should contact the GPMHSC Secretariat on 03 8699 0556 or email

Quality assurance program

Each year, the GPMHSC reviews a sample of approved activities to ensure quality benchmarks outlined in the Mental health training standards 2017–19: A guide for training providers are being met. As we are now halfway through the 2017–19 triennium and many courses have received accreditation in recent months, the GPMHSC will soon be resuming quality assurance activities.

A representative from the GPMHSC Secretariat will attend selected programs and provide feedback to both the training provider and the GPMHSC Committee. Training providers whose activities have been selected for review will be contacted by the Secretariat to make arrangements for attendance and to explain the quality assurance process in more detail.

Carer and consumer representatives: An integral part of GPMHSC training

The GPMHSC believes that mental health consumers and carers play an important role in GP mental health education. The ‘lived experience’ of consumers and carers must be incorporated into MHST and Focussed Psychological Strategies Skills Training (FPS ST) courses. The Mental health training standards 2017–19: A guide for training providers specifies the active involvement of consumers and carers in the planning, development, delivery and review of MHST and FPS ST activities.

In the context of mental health, a consumer is a person with a personal experience of having a mental illness. A carer is a person with experience in being directly involved in the care of a person with a mental illness.

For the purposes of medical education, it is important that both consumers and carers are appropriately skilled to effectively contribute to the planning, development, delivery and review stages of the activity. In the case of GPMHSC-accredited activities, they should have previously contributed to multidisciplinary projects in primary care or other mental health sector programs and be appropriately networked through a recognised consumer or carer advocacy organisation.

Where possible, consumers and carers should be from the local area and should be able to discuss their experiences with the local health system, and any barriers and enablers they have faced within the area. It is also important that consumers and carers contribute to the program from their perspective and do not take on other roles or dual roles; for example, a carer who has also experienced mental illness should not represent both the carer and consumer perspectives.

It is important that training providers are aware of the intense personal nature of sharing consumer and carer perspectives. Both consumers and carers need to be treated with respect by educators and activity attendees and be appropriately supported in a sensitive manner throughout all four stages of the activity.

Training providers should be aware of the GPMHSC advice for incorporating the consumer and carer perspectives in mental health training, which can be found in pages 7–10 of the Mental health training standards 2017–19: A guide for training providers booklet.

Making changes to an existing GPMHSC-accredited activity

If you plan to make changes or variations to your activity after accreditation was granted, training providers are advised to contact the GPMHSC Secretariat for further discussion. Email GPMHSC or call 03 8699 0556 to discuss.

Medicare reporting requirements

Please note, a provider number must be provided in order for the GPMHSC to report completed MHSTs to Medicare. Please advise the GPs attending your activities to contact the GPMHSC and provide their Medicare provider number. Without this detail, GPs cannot be reported as eligible to claim the higher Medicare Benefits Schedule item numbers. 

Email GPMHSC or call 03 8699 0556 to discuss. 

What's coming up

6th Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium
Outback in front: 20 years of rural and remote health research
11–12 April 2018
Hyatt Hotel, Canberra
More information

Health in Difference 2018
National LGBTI Health Alliance
11–13 April 2018
Australian Technology Park, Sydney
More information

GP18 – General Practice: The centre of health in Australia
11–13 October 2018
Gold Coast
More information

25–27 October 2018
More information

What's news

Royal Commission to consider mental health discrimination

The evolving state of continuity of care

People with mental illness die a decade earlier than others

Mental health apps, the good from the bad

Mental health claims challenge insurers

Mental health tests for new mums

Study to look at Indigenous health following time on country

SMS support service for new fathers to be launched in SA

More dollars for kids mental health