Publications and Resources -  for the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program


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ACMHN Publications

Release of Guidance Document for the Primary Health Networks on Commissioning Mental Health Nursing Services

The Australian College of Mental Health Nurses have been working in collaboration with the Department of Health to develop a Guidance document for the Primary Health Networks (PHNs) on the commissioning of mental health nursing services in primary care.

The document has been finalised and is now available for your information and to support the Primary Health Networks with their commissioning of mental health nursing services. We encourage you to circulate the Guidance document to your colleagues, employers and other contacts who may also find this reference useful.

We hope you find the document helpful and we encourage you to contact our Policy and Stakeholder Engagement Manager, Alexandra Anderson, should you wish to discuss anything further.

A survey of Credentialed Mental Health Nurses working in the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program: who are they? How do they work? What have they achieved?

September 2013

Click here to download the Executive Summary and select consumer profiles

Click here to download the full version


MHNIPreportNEWFINALThe  Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program (MHNIP) was established in 2007 and provides nurse-led mental health care to those with complex problems who access primary care. Credentialed mental health nurses, working collaboratively with other health professionals and service providers, have assisted many people, providing an array of services.

Commissioned by the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses, the purpose of this study was to understand the program and to evaluate its outcomes for consumers, carers and the nurses themselves.

It was found that the program has had a constructive influence on care for people with complex and severe mental health and social problems. In particular, it has demonstrated improved clinical and personal recovery for consumers; individual, case specific treatments; greater collaboration with other health professionals to broker targeted services; engagement with services by those consumers who would have previously been disengaged.


Achieving through collaboration, creativity and compromise

May 2011

Click here to download the MHNIP Review

Click here to see additional MHNIP stories


Over recent years we have seen a gradual shift towards funding and providing effective mental health services in the community. This has been sustained in the recent Federal Budget 2011.

When the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program (MHNIP) was launched in 2007, it appeared to be a promising community-based program which focused on meeting the needs of people who experience severe mental ill-health. Organisations deemed eligible, such as GPs and private psychiatrists, could register with Medicare Australia to become eligible to receive funding to engage the services of a mental health nurse. It was thought that the benefits of the program would be three fold. Consumers of mental health services would get an accessible and flexible service designed to meet their needs and focused on wellbeing and recovery; medical practitioners would get clinical support from a specialist mental health nurse who would be able to spend more time with clients; and other relevant community, health and mental health services and programs would be utilised to support consumers and carers.

Since then, the program has proved to be a watershed for the delivery of coordinated, collaborative primary mental health care. There have been a number of other significant but unforseen benefits. The program has kept many people out of hospital and helped them back into the workforce or other meaningful social lives – benefiting not only the individual, their family and community, but the public purse; and mental health nurses have been able to practise autonomously – having been provided with the freedom to use and adapt their extensive knowledge, skills and experience according to client’s needs.



Nurses Filling the Gaps: establishing a business to provide services under the MHNIP

Rosemary Lalor, 2010

Click here to read the full version


Mental health nursing within the GP setting

Pieta Shakes, 2010

Click here to read the full version 

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Other publications

Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program: case studies project report

Prepared by Australian Healthcare Associates for the National Advisory Council on Mental Health, May 2010

The MHNIP is part of the Australian Government's component of the National Action Plan on Mental Health 2006-2011. The MHNIP has been introduced as an alternative model of mental health care for those with serious mental illness, and significant impairment in their daily functioning. General practices, private psychiatric services and other appropriate community providers (including general practice networks and private hospitals) can access sessional funding to employ mental health nurses to assist in the provision of coordinated clinical care for people, in the community, with severe mental health disorders.

Keep reading


Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program Evaluation

Department of Health, December 2012

The MHNIP evaluation was conducted during 2012 and the final report released on the Department of Health and Ageing website on 24 December 2012.The evaluation notes support for the program from GPs, psychiatrists and mental health nurses with evidence that patients experience improved health outcomes. However, the report highlighted a number of areas for improvement including the need to address the uneven geographic spread of MHNIP services, the lack of control over program expenditure, and the need to strengthen operational guidelines and improve data collection.

Keep reading

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Published articles about the MHNIP

Released potential: a qualitative study of the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program in Australia
By John Hurley, Graeme Browne, Richard Lakeman, DoRhen Angking, and Andrew Cashin
In International Journal of Mental Health Nursing
Article first published online: 26 March 2013

Mental health nurses in primary care: Qualitative outcomes of the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program
By Richard Lakeman
In International Journal of Mental Health Nursing
Article first published online: 25 March 2013

Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program: Facilitating physical health care for people with mental illness?
By Brenda Happell, Chris Platania-Phung, and David Scott
In International Journal of Mental Health Nursing
Article first published online: 24 December 2012

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How to guide for mental health nurses - ACMHN Members only

The College has compiled this toolkit to help Credentialed Mental Health Nurses who deliver services under the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program (MHNIP), or those considering working under the program, by providing some information about the experience of others and what is required.

The toolkit is based on information provided by members who have experience delivering services under the MHNIP, in diverse locations and utilising different employment arrangements. The toolkit is constantly being added to and if you have an issue that you would like it to cover, or information that you would like to add, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Toolkit topics:

  • Introduction to the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program
  • Understanding General Practice
  • Role of the Mental Health Nurse
  • Employment or Private Practice?
  • Case Studies

Access the toolkit here

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Program Updates

Medicare MHNIP Program Updates

Funding for MHNIP is transferring to PHNs from 1 July 2016. For 2016-17 it will be quarantined and PHNs are required to commission mental health nursing services from the current network of MHNIP providers. From 2017-18 the funding will transition fully to the PHN flexible funding pool and MHNIP as it now exists will change as there will not be defined mental health programs.

There is updated information on the changes to MHNIP on the Department of Health website available at Information is also available on the Department of Human Services website at

The ACMHN also has a Mental Health Reform section in News/events on our website which provides a summary of the key documents regarding the mental health reforms, updates from the ACMH and other relevant information


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honosHealth of the Nation Outcome Scales
As a part of the eligibility requirements for the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program, mental health nurses must be trained in the use of the Health of the Nation Outcomes Scale (HoNOS). HoNOS is a tool to measure the health and social functioning of people with severe mental illness. It was developed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists (UK). The most comprehensive site outlining the HoNOS measurement tool is that of the Royal College of Psychiatry (UK).

Click here to access HoNOS training

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Australian General Practice Network

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners

The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists

Australian Government Department of Health

RANZCP Indigenous Mental Health

Occupational Therapy (OT) Australia

Australian Association of Social Workers

The Australian Psychological Society

Mental Health Professionals' Network

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