COAG urged to consider revised mental health strategy

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The Australian Psychological Society (APS) shares the concerns of State leaders, including the Premier of NSW, about the state of mental health in Australia. For the first time, this weeks COAG will include mental health high on the national agenda.

According to the APS, the enormous mental health workforce of well-trained psychologists is being underutilised, while the medical workforce is immensely overworked because of shortages in trained doctors.

“It is known that up to thirty percent of all GP consultations are about mental health problems.Using the trained mental health workforce already in existence – that is, Psychologists – would reduce the burden on medical practitioners and free them to work in the areas in which they are expert”, said Amanda Gordon, President of the Australian Psychological Society, today.

There are ten thousand psychologists throughout Australia, spread throughout the cities and rural areas, who could fill the workforce shortage of mental health workers identified by politicians such as Premier Iemma and mental health advocacy groups. Yet the access to psychologists is restricted through lack of government funding in all sectors.

“Psychologists are the experts in delivering Focused Psychological Strategies, but ironically General Practitioners receive Medicare funding to deliver them, while Psychologists do not”, said Gordon.“Patients who want the most care are denied funding to receive it, while busy doctors have to do something at which they are not skilled, in order to enable those in need to receive some care.”

Psychologists working in the public sector need career paths, so that senior psychologists can provide professional leadership and foster more effective use of proven psychological techniques by other health professionals, in order that the population needs are met.

“The mental health workforce is already trained and in existence”, said Gordon today. “It is time that the Government facilitated access to it”.

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For more information contact:

Elaine Grant
Communications Manager
Australian Psychological Society
03 8662 3363
0412 683 068
www.psychology.org.au