Support for people with psychosocial disabilities

The NDIS represents an unprecedented opportunity for Australians with significant and permanent psychosocial disability to have choice and control over their supports. For many people with psychosocial disability, their families and carers, the Scheme is very different to the previous approaches to the way they have received supports. In particular, there have been increases in the choice of providers and the opportunities to pursue goals and to actively engage with more diverse and inclusive recovery strategies.

Products and resources have been developed to assist participants, their families and carers and providers, including:

  • an ‘on the couch’ video – question and answer video about mental health and the NDIS;
  • a fact sheet ‘Psychosocial Disability, Recovery and the NDIS’ which was co-designed with consumers with a psychosocial disability and their families and carers; and
  • a compilation of tips ‘Completing the Access process’ for communicating about psychosocial disability.

The NDIA recognises the significant number and diversity of individuals with a psychosocial disability. The table below provides the total number and percentage of active participants with approved plans by disability group at 30 June 2017.

Table 2: Active participants with approved plans by disability group at 30 June 2017 12

Total 89,610 100%
Disability Total number Percentage (rounded to nearest whole number)
Intellectual disability 32,144 36%
Autism 25,542 29%
Psychosocial disability 6,093 7%
Cerebral palsy 4,339 5%
Other neurological disability 4,077 5%
Other physical disability 4,009 4%
Acquired Brain Injury () 2,562 3%
Visual impairment 2,060 2%
Hearing impairment 2,520 3%
Other sensory/speech impairment 2,478 3%
Multiple sclerosis 1,722 2%
Spinal cord injury 870 1%
Stroke 989 1%
Other 205 0%


More specifically, at 30 June 2017, Scheme data showed:

  • 11.9 per cent of all participants since Scheme inception who have had their access met had a psychosocial disability and, of these, 6.3 per cent had psychosocial disability recorded as their primary disability.
  • 77 per cent of people with a mental health condition who submitted an access request met the access requirements for psychosocial disability under the Scheme.
  • $412.1 million (5.7 per cent of approved committed supports) has been committed for participants with a primary psychosocial disability and a total of $805.8 million (11.2 per cent of approved committed supports) for participants with any psychosocial disability.

Reimagining mental health

A number of important initiatives were undertaken during the year. One of those was a website project focussed on supporting people with severe and persistent mental health issues to better understand the NDIS.

The website project, ‘Reimagine: Mental Health, My Recovery and the NDIS’ (external) showcases the comprehensive community support for people with severe and persistent mental illness.

This project, undertaken with the Mental Health Coordinating Council, provides free information relating to psychosocial disability, mainstream and community mental health services and the NDIS in a single online environment.

The website encourages visitors to conceptualise the unprecedented opportunity the Scheme presents in enabling secure, ongoing, recovery-oriented community support for people with severe and persistent mental illness. Specifically, the Reimagine website outlines the steps and processes required to apply for NDIS funding and explains the language of the Scheme including psychosocial disability.

It helps a person prepare for access through interactive activities and assists in identifying goals and aspirations to support the planning process. It also offers valuable hints and tips from people who have been through these same processes.

Work is currently underway to engage with participants, providers and the mental health sector to improve the experience for participants with psychosocial disability, as part of the Participant and Provider Pathway Review. This work will ensure that the pathway is designed to better support people with more complex needs.

12. Excludes participants who have exited the NDIS Back to footnote

Stewart and Marlene sitting on a couch in their home.

Having been diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2003, Stewart spent a year in hospital, including six months in a psychiatric ward.

With the support of the NDIS and Mental Illness Fellowship of Western Australia, Stewart has been able to move out of a psychiatric hostel and into a privately-rented home with fellow NDIS participant Marlene, where they enjoy a simple life.