Federal Government decision to increase mental health support to Victorians a positive commitment

Australia’s peak body for psychology, the Australian Psychological Society (APS) has welcomed the Federal Government’s decision to provide Victorians with access to much needed mental health care by allowing a further 10 sessions of psychological treatment under Medicare.

Through a GP referral, people in Victoria subjected to further restrictions can now receive up to 20 sessions of psychological care through Medicare.

APS President Ros Knight said the extension would ensure Victorians whose mental health has declined through COVID-19 have access to the mental health care and treatment needed during this challenging time.

“As the pandemic continues, all Australians – and particularly Victorians – are becoming more anxious, stressed, depressed, and socially isolated , with increased unhealthy drug and alcohol usage, Ms Knight said.

“As the country’s largest front line mental health workforce, psychologists are seeing first-hand the toll the pandemic is taking on many Australians and are working hard to alleviate and mitigate psychological harm.

“Psychologists are seeing an unprecedented level of demand on their services right now.

“Many of our clients are quickly running out of sessions, and APS members have reported that more than half of their clients are likely to require more sessions than their mental health plans had allowed.

“We were also extremely concerned that in some cases, we are seeing people on mental health plans staggering their appointments with their psychologist in an attempt to make them last for a longer period of time.

“The additional opportunities to see a psychologist for these people will be a relief, and they now do not have to be fearful about a lack of professional help at such a challenging time of their lives.

Ms Knight said the announcement followed months of intense discussion between the APS and Government.

“We commend the Prime Minister and Minister Hunt for prioritising the mental health and wellbeing of all Australians during this challenging time.

“We will continue to encourage the Government to increase the number of sessions for all Australians who have a mental health care plan, regardless of location, as part of protecting and supporting the wellbeing of the community as a whole.

“We look forward to further detail and announcements from the Federal Government in relation to mental health care,” she said.

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