In the recent Budget announcements, we are delighted that the importance of mental health has been recognised by the Commonwealth Government. The number of Medicare-subsidised psychology services that patients can access has doubled to 20 sessions for all Australians with a GP Referral in response to the social and economic devastation of 2020.
The extra psychology rebates are costed at $100.8 million over two years, with $5.7 billion committed to mental health in 2020-21 including front line services and suicide prevention.
Why is mental health becoming a bigger issue?
Many psychological problems and important consequences in terms of mental health including stress, anxiety, depression, frustration, uncertainty during COVID-19 outbreak have emerged progressively since the announcement of COVID-19, and Australia is slowly addressing the needs of its communities with alternate health care methods such as telehealth.
In staggering numbers, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that calls to Lifeline’s 24-hour crisis support hotline had broken the organizations 57 year record in September 2020 with 3326 calls on a single day. This was a 30 per cent increase from the year before on the same day.
Fortunately, mental health and suicide prevention are confirmed to be a national priority going ahead, with the federal budget spending $5.7 Billion to be spent on mental health services. The 2020/21 federal budget measure is designed to help Australians suffering more severe or enduring mental health impacts from the coronavirus pandemic.
So now, more than ever, Australians need very accessible, concise and practical advice and support.
What has changed?
Previously, if you had a mental health care plan, you would have only been able to access 10 Medicare subsidised sessions with one of our psychologists or mental health professional annually.
A mental health care plan is a support plan written with your GP to help you access the mental health support you need. A Plan may include
· A referral to an expert, like a psychologist
· The types of mental health care that can support you
· Other strategies to improve and maintain your mental health
Australians do not incur any out-of-pocket costs for consults done over the phone or on video with health professionals like GPs, psychologists and psychiatrists, as part of a $1.1 billion funding boost designed to protect against the widespread impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
I’m interested. What do I do next?
Doctors on Demand has online psychologists available through our private, secure service that are covered by the Medicare rebate if you have a current referral and mental health care plan supplied by your regular GP. The process is simple and if you’re feeling anxious about seeing a local psychologist, a video consultation may be the best starting point.