Mental health investment vote winner

Australian Psychological Society

With the Federal Election imminent the Australian Psychological Society (APS) is calling on political parties to listen to voters who are crying out for mental health support as they deal with natural disasters, the pandemic and global uncertainty.

APS was not surprised by Salvation Army research released this week finding that mental health issues are the highest concern (53.9%) for voters nationwide, the latest in a long series of surveys and reports to highlight the mental health crisis facing our nation.

APS President Tamara Cavenett urged politicians to show strong leadership by taking decisive action on mental health.

“Across Australia people are suffering from crisis fatigue and our mental health system is at breaking point. Our leaders need to urgently invest in mental health before anxiety, depression and stress spiral out of control and have serious social and economic consequences.”

APS research has found demand for psychologists’ services has almost doubled from an already record high in just the last six months.

During the pandemic 2.62 million young Australians (16-24yrs) have experienced mental health issues and 1.28 million young Australians have contemplated or attempted suicide or self-harm. Despite this, the Federal Government is only meeting 35% of its psychological workforce target, the largest shortfall of any mental health profession.

To combat this the APS has developed a 10-point election manifesto that provides immediate and long-term solutions to the nation’s mental health crisis. These are:

  1. Invest in disaster readiness and response – Support the APS to create a disaster-ready psychological surge workforce
  2. Perinatal mental health for all Australian parents – Provide mums and dads with the dedicated psychological support they need
  3. Get psychologists into schools – Implement the government’s own Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Committee recommendation to have a psychologist to student ratio of 1:500
  4. Support child mental health hubs – Invest in ‘Child Hubs’ to deliver mental health care to our children and get more psychologists trained in child and family mental health
  5. Introduce a youth mental health safety net – Introduce a ‘youth mental health safety net’ to ensure Australians aged 16 to 24 can access psychological care how and when they need it without concern about money and payments
  6. Ensure COVID-19 mental health recovery through bulk billing and rural incentives – Commit to ensuring the long-term psychosocial impacts of COVID-19 are mitigated to address the impact on the mental and physical health of Australians
  7. Improve digital mental health services – Make Telehealth a permanent feature of the Medicare Benefits Schedule and invest in modernising ‘Find a Psychologist’ to relieve wait times and connect Australians to psychologists safely and free of charge, no matter where they live
  8. Build the psychology workforce – Increase the psychology mental health workforce to meet current and future demand
  9. Strengthen the psychology workforce – Introduce a nationally coordinated placement model to support psychology workforce requirements
  10. Provide expert supervision and professional development – Support supervisor training to develop a highly qualified and sustainable psychology workforce

Ms Cavenett implored political leaders of all stripes to commit to the manifesto urgently.

“Those who aspire to leadership in government must come together a realise we risk a lost generation and an industry in jeopardy if we delay action any sooner.”

“Australians are demanding politicians address mental health with the seriousness it deserves.”

The full details of the plan can be found here.

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