Cuts to Psychology Sessions

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.

9 thoughts on “Cuts to Psychology Sessions

  1. Oh no. This isn’t good at all. I’m lucky that at the moment, I’m referred to psychologists who work in partnership with headspace, but that’s under the condition that my mental health care plan is renewed every six sessions. I’m not sure how many sessions I’m going to get bulk billed per year through headspace though, and I sure as heck cannot afford to pay for a psychologist. I’m also one of those people who take a long time to open up to people. I just had my 7th session with my previous psychologist and my GP decided to transfer me to a new one. So, it’s back to square one! 5 sessions is most definately enough to ‘cure’ someone. It’s barely enough to cover some peoples history, let alone start working on their problems.

  2. My psychologist told me about this last week! It is completely ridiculous, because a lot of mental health issues can’t be fixed in 18 sessions never mind 10!

  3. I can’t agree with you more. It’s disgusting. I can only afford to see a psychologist if I get the rebate, without it I will not be continuing until the next year. It almost seems pointless as you’ve said. I get so angry every time I hear about this!

  4. I am so mad at this. I was struggling to see how my 12 sessions were going to help me. I have had 6 with my current psychologist and we have only just managed to scrape the surface.

    And honestly, what “vast majority”. Who is he talking about? What self-respecting, qualified psychiatrist would say this?

    I’m the same- I can’t afford to pay for a psychologist and without mine, I will probably end up costing the government more in hospital resources. Which sure as hell is more expensive than funding the other 6 to 8 sessions.

  5. Absaloutly loved this post btf. Fucking ridiculous. And I agree completely, it takes most people so many sessions to become comfortable and ‘safe’ that even eighteen is a bit of a joke. For me, seeing a psych fortnightly was just pointless tbh. There’s not time to cover a fortnights worth of distress in an hour, let alone room to disclose or delve into background/past. Weekly was still a struggle but fortnightly just isn’t enough. So if eighteen is all you get, where is there time to develop any kind of ‘theraputic’ relationship? How do you trust after an hour a week for a couple month? Eurgh. So many opinions on this, but mostly just jumping up and down in frustrated agreement with you. Xxxxxxx

  6. I just started to see my new psychologist last week, which means nine more sessions until I can’t see her anymore. I can’t afford to pay the full price they are asking. I am hoping that I can swing builk billing as I am bulk bliled already under the mental health plan, but doubt it. This sucks, thanks for the warning 😦
    *hugs*
    Sarah

  7. wtf? you’ve got it in one in your last line- cutting services means costing more. (my civil service employer claimed it was ‘too expensive to the taxpayer’ to give me a female line manager and a thousand pounds worth of training to get me back to work. So instead I cost £12k in benefits per year, £75k per annum in therapy for 2 years and whatever else I’d need after that, and however much in medical care arising from my mentalness (I can’t get full costings, but think it’s about £10-15k pa, resulting in a total cost of £100k a year- that’s a pretty poor return against £1, max £2k in training, which civil servants of my grade would routinely be racking up in ‘ordinary’ training)

  8. I agree that cutting on outpatient services will lead to more people being hospitalized. I think ten sessions a year is ridiculously low. It would work for some easy-to-treat mental health issues, but not for any more complicated issues.

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