The extent of the community need for treatment of mental health problems has been clearly demonstrated by the high uptake of the Better Access to Mental Health Care Medicare items, according to the Australian Psychological Society, accounting for the larger than expected costs.
‘However, surprisingly less than half the costs associated with the initiative involve treatment items by allied health professionals, mainly psychologists,' said APS Executive Director, Prof Lyn Littlefield, ‘while GP Mental Health Care Plan and Review Medicare item number costs reflect almost as much as the treatment items, with a much smaller amount going to psychiatrists.'
In March 2008 the Australian Psychological Society (APS) conducted a survey to investigate use of the items among psychologists. Over 2000 psychologists who provide Medicare funded services under the Better Access initiative responded to the survey, 649 of these being Clinical Psychologists.
‘Psychologists taking part in the survey report that approximately 73% of their clients would not have been able to access psychological services without a Medicare rebate, demonstrating the huge, previously unmet need of the Australian population for access to affordable psychological treatment,' said Prof Littlefield.
‘Most importantly the results show that Medicare funded psychological services are reaching a population with very significant psychological needs, with psychologists in both city and country locations reporting that 81% of clients that they have seen under the initiative presented with psychological disorders in the moderate to severe range.'
Other survey results show that:
The APS is the largest professional association for psychologists in Australia, representing more than 16,000 members. The APS is committed to advancing psychology as a discipline and profession. It spreads the message that psychologists make a difference to peoples' lives, through improving psychological knowledge and community wellbeing.
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