In this year’s federal budget, the government announced that $2.2 billion would be put towards mental health. Which you’d think would be good news right? After all, mental health has been neglected and under-funded for years. That’s what I thought too…until I found out that to fund this supposed big increase to mental health funding, the government are cutting back on the number of subsidised psychologist sessions per year.
At current before the cuts come in, a person would be eligible for twelve psychology sessions in a year, or eighteen in severe/exceptional cases. This means that instead of paying about $170 to see a private clinical psychologist, Medicare will help fund a maximum of eighteen sessions so that we end up paying about $50 per session. Twelve, maximum eighteen sessions are not that many in the first place. The government however are now reducing that even further to six sessions a year to a maximum of ten. Only ten sessions a year?! Are you kidding me?! So if someone sees their psychologist once a week, they use up their allowance in two and a half months. If they visit once a fortnight, then five months. So what happens in the seven months of the rest of the year? I myself have already had eight sessions with R, my psychologist, from March through to June. Keeping in mind too, I didn’t see her at all during the month of May, as I was in hospital and she was away. So ten sessions would last me, hmm, three to four months? Unless I was rolling in money which I am not.
Professor Pat McGorry, psychiatrist and former Australian of the Year, is quoted in a news article saying, “What we’ve seen is a slight reduction in the maximum number of sessions that are available under that scheme but the vast majority of people using that scheme only need about five sessions.” Erm, who is this ‘vast majority’ you speak about? Most people are cured within five hours of therapy? Really?
I’m someone who finds it hard to talk and open up in therapy. The eight sessions I’ve had with R and the however many sessions I had with my previous two psychologists have hardly made a dent. By the time I even begin to reveal a little bit more, my ten sessions would be up already. Which makes me think, is there even much point in starting then?
What’s funny is that by reducing the number of psychologist sessions available to me in a year, I’ll probably end up costing the government even more in hospital resources. Meh.