Friday, July 29th, 2011
The Federal Government has proposed to cut funding to the highly successful Better Access to Mental Health program significantly, leaving psychologists and program participants alike worried about the severity of the cut’s implications.

The program, which has been running since 2006, provides Medicare rebate for psychological services for anybody diagnosed by a GP as suffering a mental illness; including depression, bipolar, and anxiety disorders. The program currently offers 12 initial sessions with a psychologist, with a further 6 for acute sufferers. The funding of this program has not gone to waste- with a better-than 85% success rate of the program found in it’s last audit.

The Federal Government have proposed to reduce the number of initial sessions down to only 6, with an optional 4 further sessions for acute sufferers.

What is concerning is the number of acute sufferers that, under this cut, will have their treatment cease just as it becomes effective- which will potentially have an even more detrimental affect than if they hadn’t received any treatment at all.

Michael Quinn underwent all 18 sessions after attempting suicide in 2009. It is fair to say that if he was only offered the initial 6 sessions in the severe mental state he was in, he would not have survived the experience; he would have re-attempted suicide and probably succeeded.

“Because of this program, I’m alive today- it’s as simple as that. I had all 18 sessions and needed every one of them. GP’s can prescribe medication...but it’s the psychologists and psychiatrists that assist with the thought patterns and behaviours, and it takes at least 12 sessions before you start to see any signs of progress.

“Unless you’ve got very mild symptoms, 6 sessions just won’t cut it.”

The proposed program changes are set to take place in November of this year.

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Hollie Azzopardi
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depression, suicide, mental health, federal government, health, Better Access



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