The National Disability Insurance Scheme and Mental Health

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a government-funded initiative in Australia designed to provide tailored support for people with disabilities, enabling them to lead independent and fulfilling lives.

While initially focused on physical disabilities, the scope of NDIS has expanded to encompass mental health support as well.

The individual's preferences, goals, and aspirations take centre stage during the NDIS evaluation process, guiding the creation of a personalized plan that fosters wellbeing. This person-centred approach empowers individuals to actively shape their own healing journey.

Here's a list of what support may include:

  • Psychological services. Access to psychologists or mental health professionals for counseling and therapy.
  • Therapeutic support. Support for therapeutic activities, such as art or music therapy.
  • Medication management. Support with medication management and administration if required.
  • Rehabilitation services. Access to rehabilitation services to regain skills and independence.
  • Skill development. Skill-building programs to enhance daily living, social, and vocational skills.
  • Employment support. Support to find and maintain employment suitable to the person’s abilities and interests.
  • Peer support. Access to peer support groups and networks for individuals with similar experiences.
  • Crisis management. Plans and supports in place for managing mental health crises or emergencies.
  • Advocacy. Support in advocating for the person’s rights and needs within the NDIS and other systems.

Eligibility Criteria

Individuals with severe mental health challenges are more likely to meet the NDIS eligibility criteria due to the significant functional impairment they often experience.

For people with milder mental health challenges, they may still be eligible for some NDIS services, especially those that focus on skill-building and resilience. The NDIS recognizes that early intervention and support for milder challenges can prevent them from becoming more severe.

Navigating the Application Process

Applying for NDIS support involves several steps, including gathering relevant documentation and undergoing assessments. Generally, the process can take several months.

Seeking assistance from support coordinators and NDIS plan managers can simplify the process, ensuring that applicants present a comprehensive case for their mental health support needs.

The application process typically involves the following steps:

  1. Access request. The initial step is to contact the NDIS and request access to their services. You can do this by filling out an Access Request Form, either online or in person.
  2. Assessment. Once your access request is received, the NDIS will assess your eligibility. This assessment may involve gathering information from healthcare professionals, family members, or other relevant sources.
  3. Planning meeting. If you’re deemed eligible, you’ll have a planning meeting with an NDIS representative. During this meeting, you’ll discuss your needs, goals, and the supports you require. For mental health, these goals include improving emotional resilience, developing coping mechanisms, and establishing a support network.
  4. Development of a support plan. Based on the information gathered during the planning meeting, a support plan is developed. This plan outlines the types of supports and funding you’ll receive.
  5. Plan approval. The support plan is reviewed and approved by the NDIS. You may have the opportunity to make adjustments during this phase.
  6. Implementation. Once your plan is approved, you can start accessing the supports and services outlined in your plan.

Flexibility and Review

Mental health needs can evolve over time, necessitating a flexible approach to NDIS plans. Regular plan reviews allow for adjustments based on progress and changing requirements, ensuring that the support remains aligned with the individual's current situation.

Plan reviews are typically conducted every 12 months, but in cases where needs change rapidly, more frequent reviews can be requested.

Benefits of NDIS

The NDIS offers customized support plans, ensuring assistance aligns perfectly with each participant's unique needs and ambitions.

What sets the NDIS apart is its holistic approach, addressing not just mental health but also critical life facets like housing, employment, social engagement, and daily living skills. Consequently, participants often experience a remarkable improvement in their overall wellbeing.

Furthermore, mental health challenges can lead to isolation and disconnection. NDIS support encourages community engagement by equipping people with the tools and resources needed to participate in social, recreational, and vocational activities.


The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a crucial lifeline for people facing disabilities, including mental health challenges. It provides personalized support plans, covering various aspects of life, from healthcare to employment. Early intervention is a key feature, helping individuals, even those with milder conditions, to access vital resources. With a focus on goals and community inclusion, the NDIS offers hope and a path to a more fulfilling life.

Interested in a self-guided program? The Mental Wellbeing Toolkit is "like 10 therapy sessions in one."
The Mental Wellbeing Toolkit


About Rebecca

Rebecca is the founder of The Wellness Society and author of two fluff-free books, The Framework and Understanding and Healing Trauma.

She's passionate about creating concise and compassionate mental health and wellbeing tools that address the root causes of distress.

Read more about her views on our About page.