Better Access cuts to hit 250,000 in need

MORE than a quarter of a million Australians with serious mental illness could miss out on crucial treatment because of the Federal Government’s move to cut back care offered under the Better Access program, psychologists warn.

The warning comes as peak professional bodies, including the RACGP, AMA and AGPN, prepare to meet with Health Minister Nicola Roxon and Mental Health Minister Mark Butler next week to present alternative ways to fund the Government’s $1.5 billion mental health overhaul.

Research by the Australian Psychological Society (APS) said the Budget measure to cut the maximum number of psychologist sessions offered under the program from 18 to 10 would have a “dramatic effect” on those who might not receive treatment elsewhere. 

The APS said its study of almost 10,000 patients who had completed 11–18 visits found 81% were treated for severe depression or anxiety disorders, including post-traumatic