One in five psychologists shuts the books on new patients under pandemic pressure


“Then coming into a psychology practice and being told, in fact, either our books are closed or it will be months before we can even get started can be really hard for people to hear,” Dr Cubis said. .

Dr. Fiona Martin, a registered psychologist and Liberal MP, said she was not at all surprised to hear that mental health services were being exhausted beyond capacity, with data showing there was had an increase in everything from phone calls to emergency department referrals to self-harm.

“There is clearly a shortage of psychologists, who really make up the bulk of the mental health profession,” she said.

The federal government has made significant investments in mental health services, committing $ 2.3 billion in the budget earlier this year to prevention and early intervention.

“They had also allocated money for manpower and governance, but I think we have a lot more to do there,” Dr Martin said.

Dr Martin has chaired a parliamentary inquiry into mental health and suicide prevention that is due to submit a final report to the government in November. She said it was vital to increase university internships in undergraduate and master’s programs, and that supporting graduates in their internships would help address labor shortages.

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APS CEO Dr Zena Burgess said investing in the workforce won’t solve shortages in weeks, but it is an important longer-term strategy .

For now, APS wants online psychology sessions to stay for good. So far, the Commonwealth has agreed that they will stay until the end of the year. A better online system for finding available psychologists would also make a huge difference, Dr Burgess said, and allow patients to find psychologists who might be in other parts of the country.

The leading body also wants the increased number of subsidized sessions to stay, Dr Burgess said, because the impacts of the pandemic on mental health are not going away anytime soon.

“Psychologists really feel like they are on the front lines trying to resolve this lengthy COVID mental health pandemic, which they don’t see as calming,” she said.

Crisis assistance is available from Lifeline on 13 11 14 or from Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800


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