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