How to Find a Psychologist Now
The amount of yearly psychology sessions covered by Medicare was recently halved, despite demand remaining above pre-pandemic levels.
The change is already having a significant impact on those seeking mental health services, with the number of subsidised sessions falling well short of what’s needed to treat a raft of common conditions.
Moreover, a lack of mental health providers has caused appointment wait times to balloon out to as much as 12 months. The Australian Psychological Society estimates that the Federal Government is currently meeting only 35% of its psychology workforce target, the largest shortfall of any mental health profession.
Fortunately, there are avenues for those on a valid agency or plan managed NDIS plan to find rapid assistance. Gold Coast based Urzi Psychology can connect participants to an affordable psychologist or counsellor with little to no wait times – something which is relatively unheard of given the current circumstances.
What Exactly Are The Changes To Medicare?
Since its inception in 2006, Medicare’s Better Access Initiative has undergone constant change.
Initially offering 12 subsidised psychology sessions per calendar year, with the option of an additional six in exceptional circumstances, the scheme was utilised enthusiastically by the Australian public. Mental health professionals at the time lauded it as “playing an important part in meeting the community’s previously unmet need for mental health care”.
An attempt to rein in spending in 2011, however, saw the program limited to just 10 sessions per person. This cap persisted until 2020, when the Government raised it to 20 in recognition of the additional mental toll caused by the Covid pandemic.
As of January 1 2023 that figure was reduced back to 10, leaving many with ongoing mental health needs high and dry.
Why It’s Harder Than Ever To Access Mental Health Services
Though the physical risk posed by the virus has eased somewhat, the need for psychological services in Australia has not.
Surveys including the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey indicate poor mental health is still being experienced amongst most demographics.
The Australian Psychological Society recognised this phenomenon in their own survey. It found that one third of psychologists are so busy that they’re no longer taking appointments, while three quarters are turning people away due to lengthy waitlists. For comparison, only one in one hundred ‘closed their books’ pre-pandemic.
Though it’s unclear whether this lack of availability is the driver or symptom of poor mental health in the country, it’s certainly a less than ideal situation for people with depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, personality disorders, and schizophrenia. Effective psychological therapy for disorders like these is largely based on a treatment length of more than ten sessions, with research indicating that reliable improvement occurs between 13 and 18 in 50% of people.
So what is there to do when looking for professional ongoing mental health support? Amongst an admittedly bleak industry landscape in Australia it can be difficult to know where to turn, especially if the need is urgent. Thankfully, Urzi Psychology is capable of providing rapid clinical assistance for residents in South East Queensland.
How Urzi Psychology Can Help Now
Unlike many practices, Urzi Psychology is capable of connecting NDIS participants with a psychologist or counsellor with next to no wait time.
We help NDIS participants cope and function more effectively in their everyday lives by offering support services based on their unique values, characteristics, and circumstances. By getting to know our clients before matching them with a therapist, we deliver the results they want.
Urzi supports positive mental health through traditional therapeutic methods, as well as unique initiatives such as The Earthing Project. It’s a holistic group treatment held on our 1.6 acre Tamborine Mountain farm that educates clients on the positive mental impact of farming and plant-based cooking. Along with our music and art sessions, it helps foster relationships among participants in a relaxed and controlled environment.
Whatever the treatment plan, all our clinicians are supervised by Director Dino Urzi – an experienced Clinical Psychologist who has run a successful Gold Coast based private practice for almost a decade.
Contact Urzi Psychology
The future is uncertain, but it’s unlikely that the mental health provider crisis is going to ease soon.
If you’re an NDIS participant that requires mental health support, please visit urzipsychology.com and complete an intake form or request our help applying for the NDIS with our Jump Starter NDIS application support service. An Urzi Psychology representative will be in touch to get the process started.