On Monday, I will be heading to Canberra to participate in the Mental Health Forum, as invited by the Minister for Health. I would love to say I am hopeful that this will be the start of big changes within the funding for mental health but I have been part of many reviews starting back in 2018. There have been small changes implemented during this time, but there have also been lots of delays and lots of enquiries that prevented real change from occurring. 

Regardless of my pessimism, those who know me well know that I am not backward in coming forwards with my opinion and I will strongly represent the views of AAPi members.

The real story of the Better Access Evaluation is that the report strongly supported the effectiveness of the scheme and identified that the major barrier to access was cost. Providing more sessions was strongly supported.  We are not fooled by the Government's insistence that clients are missing out because additional sessions were added. We must increase sessions and increase rebates so that sessions can be accessed by those who cannot afford to access adequate treatment currently. This simple solution will reduce the disease burden in our community and help people live their best lives.

We have a mental health system that has been under-resourced for decades.  There has been a push by successive governments away from properly resourcing the public mental health system and into privatised mental health care and cost-shifting between Government Departments.  The number of sessions available for clients needs to be increased to be in line with appropriate clinical practice. This will allow psychologists to work ethically and effectively with clients. Adequately funding the Medicare system with a rebate of $150 is a cost-effective and appropriate use of funding. 

Workforce issues can be improved by adding a Medicare rebate for the work done by provisional psychologists and utilising all psychologists to the full and individual scope of practice.

Update from AAPi Chief Services Officer 

Posted on 27 January 2023