Over 8.5 million Aussies could be impacted by tomorrow’s Federal Parliament meeting

Posted 1 week ago by Georgie Waters
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A discussion at Federal Parliament with the Department of Health and Aged Care is scheduled on July 4, 2024. [Source: Shutterstock]
A discussion at Federal Parliament with the Department of Health and Aged Care is scheduled on July 4, 2024. [Source: Shutterstock]

Could changes to mental health services happen soon?

Key points:

Representatives from the Department of Health and Aged Care will meet at the Australian Parliament House on July 4, 2024, to discuss essential matters including service gaps in mental health care.

The public hearing will be held from 11:05am to 12pm (AEST) with the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Regional Development, Infrastructure and Transport present. 

Approximately 8.5 million Australians have experienced a mental disorder at least once in their life, according to the latest data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Mr Luke Gosling, who is the chair of this committee, expressed the importance of this meeting to ensure appropriate funding can be allocated to where it can be utilised and create a difference in the lives of Australians. 

“The hearing will provide an opportunity for the Committee to hear about the roles of the Australian, state and territory, and local governments in managing our health system, with a particular focus on the financial support provided to local governments that are delivering essential health services,” he said.

“The Committee is keen to hear from the Australian Government about the health funding, program and regulatory framework in the context of local government health service delivery.”

Approximately 2.7 million Australians accessed mental health services supported by Medicare in the last year, as per the latest data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners recently released the tenth edition of Guidelines for Preventive Activities in General Practice, a book that helps inform doctors of the best treatment recommendations for specific patient symptoms. 

RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins highlighted the importance of providing a greater focus on mental health care for Australians with possible recommendations for policy change.

“Psychological issues are the most common health issue managed by Australian GPs, making up nearly 40% of all patient consults,” she said.

“GPs must be included in mental health policy development and planning at all levels. We have the knowledge and experience to help Australia address its mental health crisis, and ensure no patients miss out on the care they need.”

Additionally, Dr Higgins made a direct comment regarding changes required for a Medicare reform to better support Australians experiencing mental health concerns. 

“[…] Medicare needs a makeover because it’s structured in a way that discourages longer consultations. We know that mental health consults cannot be rushed, and that’s why we are continuing our calls for a 20% increase in patient rebates for longer consults and consults concerning mental health,” she said. 

People with diagnosed mental health disorders can access Medicare-subsidised therapy through a mental health treatment plan. Through this, eligible patients can receive up to ten sessions annually with a mental health professional. Costs vary between services, but bulk-billed services mean that you won’t have to pay anything.

If you aren’t diagnosed with mental health issues but are worried about your mental health, book an appointment with your doctor to discuss assessment or referral to a psychologist or psychiatrist. 

While getting professional help can help you manage mental illness, eating well can also have a positive impact on your mood. 

However, for people living with mental health issues, just getting through the day can be difficult let alone thinking about what to cook for the next meal.

When cooking seems overwhelming, convenience foods seem more appealing. However, according to researchers, eating ultra-processed foods can increase the likelihood of developing depression.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, support is available now. Lifeline is a free service available through phone, text or online chat. 

Additionally, headspace is a free service through phone, email or online chat which can be accessed by adolescents and young adults between 12 – 25.

 

What are your thoughts on how mental health care access could improve for Australians?

Let the team at Talking Disability know on social media. 

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