COVID-19 is having a huge impact on mental health. The Australian Government and RACGP are providing additional support for patients and healthcare workers.
Additional Medicare subsidised psychological therapy sessions
For patients, the Australian Government will provide 10 additional Medicare subsidised psychological therapy sessions for people subjected to further restrictions in areas impacted by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The additional Medicare subsidised sessions will allow people in eligible areas who have used their 10 sessions to continue to receive mental health care from their psychologist, psychiatrist, GP or other eligible allied health worker.
The new items will apply to people subject to public health orders restricting their movement within the state or territory issued at any time from 1 July 2020 to 31 March 2021, and to people who are required to isolate or quarantine under public health orders.
Patients will be required to have a Mental Health Treatment Plan and a review with their GP to access the additional sessions. This measure commenced on Friday 7 August and be available until 31 March 2021.
Medicare subsidised psychological therapy sessions
The Australian Government is also providing an additional $12 million to ensure people in Victoria can access 24/7 mental health support through digital and telephone counselling services during this difficult time.
The Government is making this additional investment to ensure that existing helplines can meet increased demand, and can connect clients to ongoing and more intensive support when needed.
The Beyond Blue Coronavirus Wellbeing Support Service is available to all Australians needing support through the COVID-19 pandemic and can be accessed via telephone at 1800 512 348 or online.
Anyone experiencing distress can seek immediate advice and support through Lifeline (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), or the Government’s digital mental health gateway, Head to Health.
If you are concerned about suicide, living with someone who is considering suicide, or bereaved by suicide, the Suicide Call Back Service is available at 1300 659 467 or on their website.
Being a GP can be challenging and stressful. You must also take care of your own physical, mental, emotional and social health, and seek support when required.
The RACGP has developed the resource ‘Self-care and mental health resources for general practitioners’ to increase members awareness of available supports.