Australians left in dark about future of telehealth for psychology

Psychologists are calling on the Federal Government to make telehealth for psychology sessions a permanent part of the Medicare system.

Late last year, Minister Hunt announced that under Medicare, universal, whole-of-population telehealth will be made permanent, however as yet this has not been extended to psychology sessions.

Psychologist, and President of the Australian Psychological Society (APS) Tamara Cavenett says the recent lockdowns across Victoria, Brisbane and Perth are a stark reminder we remain vulnerable to COVID-19.

“The pandemic isn’t over. We live in a world where you can be at the Australian Open one day and in lockdown the next. Australians need to know that no matter what public health measures are introduced they can access psychology sessions under Medicare,” said Ms Cavenett.

“Psychologists are calling on the government to reassure Australians that their mental health matters.”

“Psychologists have been on the front-line of a mental health crisis in Australia. Now is not the time to wind back mental health support.”

From March 31, universal access to telehealth psychology sessions under Medicare will expire.

With less than three weeks remaining for Australians to access these services, the APS has written to the Federal Government calling for certainty.

“In the Prime Minister’s own words, mental health issues and suicide don’t discriminate,” said Ms Cavenett.

“One in five Australians will experience a mental ill-health every year, and half of Australians will be diagnosed during their lifetime. The pandemic has also compounded and amplified the mental health issues that already exist within the community.”

“As psychologists we need to provide certainty and continuity of care to our clients. Without this, mental health care is compromised.”

“Disrupted treatment plans can mean two steps forward and one back. People in distress who rely on psychology sessions to help manage their mental health are at increased risk of experiencing a crisis.”

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