The Australian Psychological Society (APS) is calling on the Federal Government to make two simple but important changes to support the mental health of all Australians during the pandemic.
APS President Ros Knight said psychologists were warning that more needs to be done to provide the community with reassurance and certainty during such a challenging time.
“Our governments have acted quickly to ensure the mental health of Australians is appropriately supported during this time, and that psychologists can continue to operate safely and effectively in the best interests of their clients.
“However, we are calling on the Federal Government to introduce two key changes that will have a significant, positive impact on peoples’ mental health.
“Firstly, we are seeking a formal announcement that access to Medicare psychology services via telehealth will be extended beyond September 2020.
“The scale and impact of the pandemic is beyond what many of us had ever anticipated, and for the safety of our clients and our psychology workforce it is clear that we will absolutely need to continue utilising telehealth beyond September.
“We look forward to working with Government on the future of telehealth,” she said.
Ms Knight also welcomed the decision to provide Victorians with access to a further 10 sessions of psychological treatment under Medicare, but said the sessions should be made available to all.
“Secondly, we are calling for additional sessions for people using a Mental Health Treatment Plan to be extended to any Australian, in any part of the country.
“Victorians are certainly struggling under the current circumstances, but let’s remember that Victorians have family and friends across the nation who are also suffering.
“We are one community, and we cannot lose site that this pandemic has had a toll on all Australians, regardless of their location.
“Australians need access to additional sessions, and they need it now,” she said.
The APS’s calls follow the Federal Government’s announcement that additional support will be made available for Victorians via headspace, Kids Helpline, Lifeline and Beyond Blue.
“Any additional funding in mental health support is welcome, and we again commend the Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Health Greg Hunt for prioritising the mental health and wellbeing of all Australians during this challenging time.
“The best next steps to continue this good work are to secure the future of telehealth for the delivery of psychological services, and to allow all Australians to access additional services if they need them,” she said.