The Australian Psychological Society (APS) welcomes calls by The Age editorial to increase investment in mental health by increasing the number of sessions available under the Better Access to Mental Health initiative.
Executive Director of the APS, Professor Lyn Littlefield OAM, says, ”The Better Access program, which provides Medicare subsidised access to psychological interventions, has been one of the Government’s great success stories in mental health.”
She adds, “It is one of the few Government programs that has been evaluated and is seen as being a highly effective and cost efficient way of supporting people with mental health problems”.
In 2013 the option to provide additional sessions for people with more severe mental illnesses was reduced from 18 to 10 sessions.
In a number of cases, this limit is lower than an adequate ‘dose’ of psychological treatment, particularly for people with more severe or complex mental health conditions - such as severe depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders or bipolar disorder.
“Very few services remain available and affordable for these people as they are generally ineligible for treatment through the public mental health services. Their condition may well deteriorate without sufficient treatment” says Prof Littlefield.
Reinstating the six additional ‘exceptional circumstances’ Better Access sessions for clients who meet appropriate clinical criteria would close a significant gap in mental health service provision.
“We strongly support the call to extend the number of Better Access sessions as a sound Government investment in the mental health of the Australian community,” says Prof Littlefield.
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The APS is the largest professional organisation for psychologists in Australia, representing more than 22,000 members. The APS is committed to advancing psychology as a discipline and profession. It spreads the message that psychologists make a difference to people’s lives, through improving psychological knowledge and community wellbeing.