News | 13 October 2015

Mental Health and the NDIS

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Mental health and the NDIS

The NDIS has the potential to support thousands of Australians with mental illness across Australia. Following on from Mental Health Week we look at who qualifies and what support is available.

More than 1800 Australians with psychosocial disability are already receiving support under the NDIS in trial sites around the country. Fifty-five thousand more are expected to qualify once the NDIS is rolled out across the country.

A person living with mental illness will be eligible for the NDIS if it impacts on their life in a significant way.

According to the agency responsible for the NDIS, to meet the eligibility rule you “need to have an impairment or condition that is likely to be permanent (lifelong) and that stops you from doing everyday things by yourself.”

That could mean it affects how you communicate, how you get on with people, how you are included in your local community, how you learn, how you get around and your ability to care for yourself.

The access checklist provides a guide for who is eligible now, and who will be eligible when the NDIS is rolled out in your area.

So how can the NDIS support people with mental illness?

The NDIS funds “reasonable and necessary supports” that help people with disability reach their goals in life, to work and to be part of the community.

The NDIS won’t support clinical services that you get from the health system – things like psychiatry services or medication.

But it can support people to be more independent, find a job, be more financially secure, travel to appointments independently or make friends more easily.

That could include funding for anything from assistance learning a new technology, career guidance to transport to community events or help with the cleaning at home.

The NDIA has put together a fact sheet that explains the supports the NDIS will fund.

In the case of one Tasmanian NDIS participant, Matthew Davidson, recently interviewed by the ABC, the NDIS helped him move out of home and take up bushwalking.

Matthew was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a teenager, and has trouble with identifying what is the truth.

The NDIS has supported him in bushwalking, with a carer and snorkelling – which is inspiring him to think about a career in marine biology.

He’s also part of a program designed to give people with schizophrenia more independence – helping him to move out his family’s home, teaching him how to plan a day and how to get to appointments.

Next on his agenda is getting back to university. Read more about Matthew’s story here.

Note: The NDIA hosted a webinar on Mental Health and the NDIS on 7 October, with panellists with lived experience talking about the impact of the NDIS for them and their family. We’ll post the link to the discussions here as soon as it is ready.

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