Medicare’s 2006 Better Access initiative was a direct response to low treatment rates for common mental disorders. Four million people experienced mental disorders last year; many of those experienced more than one mental disorder.
All registered psychologists working in mental health have been trained in, and continuously engage in further specialised training and supervision throughout their working lives. Research commissioned by the Australian Government shows that our client outcomes are world class, with large treatment effects found across all clients with all forms of mental illness (Pirkis et al., 2011).
Because of our effectiveness as a profession, it cannot be in the public interest to lock 80% of the workforce behind a lower rebate than the other 20% (given our demonstrated equivalence). Better access is not achieved by clients having to pay higher out of pocket expenses to see most psychologists, or by putting psychologists out of business.
Currently we have two very different rebates, for the same client, for the same treatment, for the same outcome…its time to bring public policy into line with the evidence: one rebate for one profession for better access to mental health care.