Some of you may be aware of the current change.org campaign titled: Counsellors Care
What we’re asking for
To meet the urgent shortage of mental health workers, we are calling for the Government to increase access to Medicare-funded mental health services by including degree-qualified, registered counsellors to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS), through the Better Access Initiative (BAI).
Australia is currently experiencing a mental health crisis.
As a result of the pandemic, demand for mental health services has spiked, especially in states that experienced long periods of lockdowns. Lifeline, for example, experienced an almost 70% increase in calls during and post this period, and there are now waiting lists of six weeks or more to see a mental health provider. The demand is so high that many psychologists are closing their books to new patients because they simply can’t keep up.
And while this is a nation-wide issue, it’s amplified in rural and regional areas where mental health services are most lacking. Almost a third of Australians live in rural and remote areas, however 87% of psychiatrists and 82% of psychologists are employed in major cities. And sadly, the further from cities you go, the higher suicide and self-harm rates are.
To make matters worse, the Government is not proposing any timely solution to help address the crisis. However, an immediate solution does exist.
The answer to the mental health workforce shortages is clear – over 9,500 highly skilled and experienced registered counsellors can be better utilised, along with over 6,000 new and future graduates who will be ready to enter the workforce in the next few years, ready to act in various roles across the workforce.
Registered counsellors are an under-utilised part of the mental health workforce, despite being a qualified, appropriate, and cost-effective option for patients with mild to moderate mental health issues. Registered counsellors also have the expertise to support patients with more complex mental health issues.
Including counsellors as Medicare-funded mental health providers will improve access to and targeting of services – helping to address Australia’s mental health crisis. It would also have a positive impact on the per capita service cost for Government and on out-of-pocket costs for consumers accessing services under the BAI.
Ultimately, full utilisation of an appropriately qualified and skilled mental health workforce, including counsellors, will achieve better client outcomes from mental health services and reduce financial strain on the health system.
Help us drive change with a ready-to-go solution, which is a better utilisation of registered counsellors.
+ Please consider signing the petition or sharing this campaign with friends and family – https://chng.it/LMBPjtyVtn