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Adult psychology, Julia Gillard, Men and Mental Health, Mental Health, Psychiatry, Psychology, Women's Mental Health

Cuts to Medicare Psychology Sessions, please Mr Butler are you serious?

A spokeswoman for Mr Butler said: ”The changes to the program are based on solid data and independent expert advice which shows two key things – that the program is failing hard-to-reach groups and that of the people accessing the program, over 90 per cent of them are not utilising all their sessions.” **

If this is all Mark Butler bases his decision making upon then our country’s mental health system is in very hazardous hands.  This statement over simplifies and misses the mark of the true essence of what it means to help those in need. By stating  it is “failing hard-to-reach groups” overlooks the key reason as to why the better access to mental health program is so important.

I am not that naive that I do not comprehend statistics support why we do and do not do projects and who and who doesn’t get funding but to simplify such a large social debilitating issue is ridiculous.

Mark Butler and your spokeswoman, you have really made me angry.
Yes i was already fairly agitated at the fact that you and Prime Minister Gillard had reduced the amount of sessions available to people under the better access to mental health program but to qualify the decision, twisting these two statistics to your favor is blood boiling.

Those same numbers can also be analysed as such:
 “failing hard-to-reach groups”
These groups you speak of are not going to be further reached by cutting out the program. These groups actually need more sessions so that they are able to be engaged in treatment. On average when I worked with difficult to engage clients it took at least 20 sessions. Most of them being weekly and twice weekly to establish rapport and a trusting and significant relationship for therapy.

Tell me how cutting these sessions is now going to reach them? I havent seen any other programs announced to commence as of the 1st november when you have proposed the cuts commence from. The e-counselling that has been announced as part of headspace and the extra headspace centres isn’t reaching these people. Do they all have access to computers? Are all of those difficult to reach people only under the age of 25 years? Hmmmm didn’t think so.

“people accessing the program, over 90 per cent of them are not utilising all their sessions”
Yes I agree people didn’t always use the full quota of 12 sessions whilst I was working with them. Though I can confirm that 70% of people did. With that those that didn’t mostly did not because the sessions that were left to use that they could possibly look further and deeper into their presenting issue would not have been enough to open that “pandora’s box” for want of a better word and therefore it is therapeutically more appropriate to stop at that point in time.

Waiting lists also have a major impact upon people accessing services. Therefore if we had further healthcare providers available and funded or supported in private practice you may find that those 90% of people would be more likely to commit to regular treatment knowing that they did not have to wait multiple weeks between appointments due to availability of the clinician.

Finally people may not have been able to use their full quota as they could not afford it. On average most services being provided only received a 70% rebate of the fees payable. Yes the government provided a generous rebate but as most people find it difficult to acknowledge mental illness as medical issue they do not prioritise it in their finances. However if this was a knee or back ailment I am fairly sure they would adjust their budgets to see their GP or specialist.

Yes even the 12 sessions, or 18 sessions maximum you were previously willing to supply had limitations in not being enough to make long term shifts but its a whole lot better than a maximum of 10 sessions.

What makes this forthcoming change harder to digest is that those who have already used 10+ sessions by the 1st of November will not be entitled to any further sessions for the 2011 year. Serious compromise of duty of care for the client and practitioner is it not? Shall we send them to you Mark Butler or is Prime Minister Gillard going to be oncall for the next 8 weeks? (APS link re: changes http://www.psychology.org.au/Assets/Files/Changes-to-the-Better-Access-to-Mental-Health-Care-initiative-1Nov2011.pdf)

I have come in contact with some great tweeps who have been unrelenting in their work to make changes please support them and retweet them if you are on twitter @jumanjiT @alisonfairleigh and @johnalchin. There are many others also charging forward with the cause.

More funding is needed in Mental Health. Not just shuffling it around!

Now here is an important part can you please help out. Petition regarding the cuts: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/better-access-to-psychologists.html

I’m hopping off my soapbox for now……

** Original Article by Jill Stark in The Age newspaper http://m.theage.com.au/national/cuts-to-hurt-mentally-ill-say-doctors-20111022-1mdjz.html


About Bringing Spirit Into The Everyday

Modern Suburban Hippie (minus hallucinogens :) ) Vegetarian. Passionate. Love Laughs. Yoga. Chai Lattes. Crystals. Oracle cards. Goddesses. Angels. Spiritual. Perfume Loving. Intuitive Parenting. Breastfeeding Mama. Sport Loving. Opinionated. Scorpio. Psychologist. I have 3 little people who rock my world.


4 thoughts on “Cuts to Medicare Psychology Sessions, please Mr Butler are you serious?

  1. Can people have the right to choose their preferred method of services – can Medicare rebates give people more diversity of choice? Or can people assess funding to spend mental health dollars the way they want? – isn’t there a mindset that could subsidize the equality of Choice?

    Often a degree on disinterest is present because of the subjective & objective stigma surrounding mental health/psychological/spiritual emergence issues; this is probably one of the most intimidating obscurities blurring evidence, regarding hard to reach groups and people not “choosing” to continue with access. (From a subjective experience, I can vouch for my discontinuation of ‘certain’ sessions; I discontinued abruptly myself – and that was not by lack of not wanting to progress, it was about the right to fail as a choice to explore other options).

    Building trust means translating Choice at the grassroots; isn’t this representative of democracy? – actually it’s an elementary ingredient to change enhancement & Recovery orientated practice in the Mental Health sector.
    People need an invitation to taste Choice & explore the meaning & evolve individual identity through the process; this is a culture that needs to live & breathe in the tradition of Citizenship.

    People should have the Choice to choose how they want to recover, discover or self-develop as a non-linear process. Maybe it’s self-development courses, maybe it’s specialist mental health services, maybe it’s a psychological recovery, maybe it’s a medical recovery , maybe it’s spiritual emergence requiring chakra alignment? – who knows – after all it’s a personal choice.

    Posted by Sharon Stocker | October 24, 2011, 10:09 pm
    • I agree totally. I didn’t address this aspect in this post as I’ve been beating my head against a brick wall for awhile now in regards to complementary and holistic methods in regards to not only mental health but general wellbeing. I believe it’s best me at least supporting the cause to challenge the reduction in sessions available as more is better than less in any scenario. The bottom line is the government haven’t allocated enough money for mental health independent as to the method of treatment. Thank you for being passionate about the cause and also commenting.

      Posted by Precocious Lotus | October 25, 2011, 6:46 pm
  2. I am passionate to commitment. Any manifestation of “we can help you” takes away the right for people to interpret their own strengths, adopt values and strive with the determination to Flourish. Waiting lists create patience, fosters resistance & breeds hope; hope that someone might just say – enough is enough; it’s time for convergence at the signpost: Resilience.

    Posted by Sharon A Stocker (@idaremyidea) | October 27, 2011, 10:18 pm


  1. Pingback: Prescient remarks about mental health funding | johnalchin.info - October 24, 2011

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