Mental health must be key focus of Albanese Government

Australian Psychological Society

The Australian Psychological Society (APS) congratulates Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and the incoming government and urges them to commit to addressing the mental health challenges facing Australians.

The APS also congratulates Ministers Butler and Clare on their appointments and looks forward to proactively engaging with them on these crucial issues.

APS President Tamara Cavenett emphasised the need to acknowledge and address the impact of the climate crisis and the pandemic on Australians’ mental health.

“During a time of uncertainty and national crises our mental health system is on the brink. Psychologists on the frontline are telling us the anxiety that people are feeling about climate change and natural disasters is palpable right across the country.”

“We are committed to working with the incoming government to create a more sustainable sector that values patients and psychologists alike.”

“By increasing university funding we can begin to address the problems facing the community.”

The Productivity Commission has found that mental illness is costing Australia up to $220 billion per year, while one in three psychologists are unable to take on new patients due to overwhelming demand. Before the pandemic the figure was 1 in 100.

Approximately 50 per cent of adult mental illness begins before 14 years of age and recent research has found 40 per cent of young Australians attempting self-harm or thinking about suicide during the pandemic.

“The social and economic toll of continued inaction is too great” Ms Cavenett said “we must begin to invest in mental health just as we do physical health.”

Several crucial reforms must be addressed by the incoming government, namely:

  • Funding postgraduate psychology university places on par with GPs, veterinarians, dentists and psychiatrists
  • Expanding Medicare coverage and lowering the gap fee for patients
  • Replicating GP regional relocation incentives for psychologists
  • Making the additional 10 per annum Medicare-funded psychology sessions a permanent feature of the Better Access program
  • Removal of GP referral requirements for the first three sessions for the next 12 months to alleviate pressure on patients and GPs, and
  • Introducing a 1:500 psychologist to student ratio at all public, private and independent high schools.

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