Taking care of your mental health is super important when you’re studying. Living and working overseas can be stressful, and when you add deadlines for assignments and exams into the mix, developing ways to maintain a healthy outlook becomes even more important.
If you feel like you need access to support, it can be hard to know where to begin! One starting point could be through your university or college. Many universities have an International Student Support (ISS) team, and these can be a good place to turn to for advice and support. Team members can help you find a doctor, and may be able to arrange for a temporary reduced study load or time away from your course, without it affecting your visa.
Your Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) can help you with the cost of medical treatment, but there are some important questions to address when it comes to accessing health services.
What if I have a pre-existing mental health condition?
A pre-existing condition is an illness or condition that you were suffering from in the six months before arriving at your study destination - even if you weren’t already diagnosed by the date your visa was granted, or when you arrived.
If you have a pre-existing mental health condition, there is a waiting period before you can access services in Australia under your insurance policy. You are able to see a medical practitioner at any time, but it’s important to be aware that your insurance may not cover treatment during the waiting period. This means, you’ll need to pay the full cost for any treatment yourself.
A medical practitioner approved by your health insurance provider will assess your individual situation, and you’ll need to give them all the information about your condition, including details of any previous treatment. If they diagnose it as a pre-existing condition, you’ll have to wait to be able to claim treatment on your insurance.
The waiting period is calculated as 12 months starting from whichever date is later:
- The date you or your dependent (if you need to access services for a spouse, child or other family member) arrived in Australia
- The date your Student Visa was granted
Are there waiting periods for psychiatric treatment?
Seeing a psychiatrist with a pre-existing condition means that you have shorter waiting periods. Most insurers only require a two-month wait until you can access services. Psychiatric treatment involves the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of mental health conditions, and you must be treated at an approved psychiatric facility if the benefits are to be payable.
What other support is available?
It’s normal to feel worried about living in a new country, but there are plenty of support services available to you if you’re an international student in Australia. This includes free services you can access from your phone or computer, which include phone counselling.
- Beyondblue offers info and advice about depression and other mental health issues, as well as an online live chat function if you don’t feel like speaking over the phone. You can also call and speak to someone 24 hours a day on 1300 224 636.
- Lifeline is another great resource, with crisis support and suicide prevention services and an online live chat. You can call them 24 hours a day on 13 11 14.
Any other questions?
If you still have uncertainty, check out the simple OSHC Australia comparison tool, where you can compare the features and pricing of all five Australian government-approved providers in the one place and secure your policy within minutes.
Alternatively, simply contact our friendly support team and we’ll let you know which treatments are included in your policy.