Thinking Futures report launched: National poll finds strong support for more psychology funding

Australian Psychological Society

Peak body for psychology the Australian Psychological Society (APS) has launched the inaugural Thinking Futures report, calling for the Federal Budget to boost psychology services and meet the growing mental health impacts of climate change and inflation.

As part of the report the APS conducted a member survey of 1027 psychologists and launched the APS National Mental Health Survey. The National Mental Health Survey of 2068 community members was conducted online by Redbridge Group from 30 Jan to 1 Feb 2024.

APS President Dr Catriona Davis-McCabe said the report highlights that while Australians are already struggling to access the services they need, things will only worsen without strong government intervention.

“Thinking Futures shows that psychologists are deeply concerned about the mental health of our nation, and that the community is ready to embrace mental health as a core health priority.

“A staggering 94 per cent of psychologists said they believe climate change will affect Australians’ mental health in the future, and 77 per cent think natural disaster related mental health issues will increase in the just the next three years.”

“72 per cent want to see more government action to address this and with a mental health system already under strain, we need to plan effectively to deal with this oncoming challenge” she said.

92% of APS members also believe psychology can contribute to building resilience against the psychological impacts of climate change and natural disasters.

The National Mental Health Survey found that the current system cannot meet existing needs, let alone those arising from the psychological effects of worsening climate change and natural disasters.

The survey looked at the community’s knowledge of the mental health system, barriers to access, and priorities for reform. When asked about the importance of government investment right now in psychology services, 95 per cent of National Mental Health Survey participants saw this as an important action for government. 65 per cent said it was very important while 30 per cent said it was somewhat important.

The community also understands the widespread benefits of investing in psychology services. 73 per cent agreed that investing in psychology services reduces overall costs to the health system and economy more broadly, underlining the case that mental health should not be seen as an add on service to primary care.

Despite the near universal belief that government investment in psychology services is important, many people remain untreated or undertreated. 75 per cent of participants reported that cost was in their top three biggest barriers to care, followed by a lack of local availability (60 per cent) and not knowing where to go (53 per cent). 52 per cent of people don’t think the government is doing enough to support psychology services.

When asked about possible solutions, 75 per cent wanted more government investment to increase psychology graduates, while a further 75 per cent wanted psychology services to be fully funded by Medicare. 59 per cent agreed it should be easier for overseas psychologists to practice in Australia.

“These findings show the community has a deep understanding of the issues and how to address them. It’s time for government to act” said Dr Davis-McCabe.

Thinking Futures has eleven recommendations to modernise psychology services which include:

  • Building climate resilience in frontline workers and disaster-affected communities
  • Getting a 1:500 psychologist to student ratio across primary and secondary schools
  • Establishing free Medicare-subsidised psychology sessions for young people aged 14 to 25
  • Increasing and indexing the current Medicare rebate to make psychology services cheaper
  • Investing in more psychology postgraduates and overseas psychologist processing, and
  • Replicating GP regional relocation incentives for psychologists, including placement funding for regional and rural areas.

The full Thinking Futures report is available from Tuesday 23 April at

/Public Release. View in full here.