Psychologists – key to tackling Australia’s mental health crisis

<<Return to Media Releases 2006

The Australian Psychological Society (APS) welcomes the proposed Federal Government initiative to give people with mental health disorders access to expert psychological treatment from qualified psychologists through Medicare.

The demand for mental health services in Australia far outweighs what is currently being provided under Government-funded services.

“There are a large number of psychologists in Australia specifically trained to provide care in mental health - many having specialist postgraduate training of six years duration followed by supervised clinical experience.They are also required to adhere to a Code of Ethics and engage in continuing professional development to ensure provision of high quality services to the public,” said Professor Lyn Littlefield, Executive Director of the APS.

“There is currently limited affordable access to best practice psychological treatments for people who require mental health services. There is conclusive research evidence to show that psychological interventions are often more effective in treating most mental health disorders than pharmacological treatments,’ said Professor Littlefield.

“Psychologists are currently significantly under-utilised in the provision of mental health services across both the public and private sectors due to issues related to affordability.This initiative will ensure that people with mental health disorders will have increased access to affordable, high quality psychological treatments,” said Professor Littlefield.

“Overseas research has long shown that the inclusion of psychological services in health care schemes reduces the overall cost of the scheme.Instead of psychologically troubled people becoming life-long consumers of drugs, they can be effectively helped by evidence-based psychological treatments within a relatively short timeframe.

‘The real winners from this proposed government initiative to provide access to psychologists through the Medicare system, will be the thousands of Australians with mental illness who will now more readily be able to access proven psychological treatments, while the other big winner will be Australia’s health budget.”

---Ends---

APS Executive Director, Professor Lyn Littlefield, is available for interview.

For more information contact:

Elaine Grant
Communications Manager
Australian Psychological Society
03 8662 3363
0412 683 068