Australian Psychological Society (APS) President Professor Bob Montgomery agreed that more money needs to be allocated to mental health, in a response to the announcement of John Mendoza's resignation from the National Mental Health Advisory Council.
"The enormous uptake of the Better Access to Mental Health Care initiative, in which GPs, psychiatrists and paediatricians can refer their patients for psychological therapy, reveals the glaring need for services felt by the whole range of people struggling with mental health issues. It is clear that the only area of mental health to receive significant funding in the latest budget was youth, and yet there are many other sectors which are still sadly under-resourced," said Professor Montgomery.
Through Better Access, GPs have recognised the benefits of referring their depressed and anxious clients, those with eating disorders and panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, drug and alcohol and other addictions to psychologists. There are other disorders, especially chronic ones such as schizophrenia, that need a team approach, and the APS supports the development and evaluation of a range of models of support and intervention for those with mental health problems. These other models should be well thought through, as patients should be able to choose their provider and mode of service, rather than being relegated to a model that may not fit their need.
When a consumer consults a psychologist with a Mental Health Care Plan provided by the GP, it is with the confidence that the psychologist is trained to exacting standards, follows a Code of Ethics, pursues continuing education and is registered by the government. Through the Better Access scheme, the GP or paediatrician can refer in response to early symptoms, which evidence shows reduces the likelihood of the development of chronic mental illness. Consumers overwhelmingly state that psychological interventions have helped them manage and maintain their mental health and increase their productivity.
"There is no doubt that there needs to be much more investment into the mental health of this nation," said Professor Montgomery. "We need to increase the pool of mental health funding to improve access to psychologists, in order to improve the well-being of the average Australian."
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The APS is the largest professional association for psychologists in Australia, representing more than 18,500 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.