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4 Comments

  1. 1

    jillian Horton

    Dear Melissa and Paul,

    The articles have a heavy focus on the experience of GPs and patients who see GPs for their care plans. What about writing something informed from the perspective of the psychologists who actually do the psychological therapy and the patients who receive treatment from specialist psychologists? This perspective seems to always get negelected or lost in mental health discussions, even though this focus is central to the treatment actually being done. For example, how to patients feel that they can no longer work through their emotional based difficulties in any depth in settings in the private sector? What do they do until the ATTAPs system is up and running? We have research evidence to show that patients need approximately 20 sessions of psychotherapy with a qualified psychologist to successfully recover from mental health difficulties and sustain this change. Less sessions result in relapse and incomplete outcomes, and the revolving door.

    Another flawed aspect of this debate is the view being pushed that people seen in the practices of specialist psychologists are experiencing mild to moderate mental health issues, the so called “worry well”. This is NOT correct, as I and my collegaues, certainly see people in high need with complex mental health issues. Before Better Access there was virtually NO access to psychological treatments, only drug treatment through GPs. The public sector had been so under resourced for so long they could only see the extreme end of the mental health spectrum – suicides and psychoses. Many people were not wanting to take drugs and hence not suprisingly when Better Access got of the ground there was a massive uptake – because there was a massive unmet need. I dont see the Better Access scheme as competeing with the need to develop broader access to other sections of the community, or to people diagnoses with psychoses (which is only about 2% of the mental health population). I believe that services should cover the spectrum and not have, what we have just experienced, a case of “robbing Peter to pay Paul”, leaving many people with genuine high mental health needs stranded. I would like to add, that when psychological services and funding come under the control of the medical sector, which is what will happen with the expansion of the ATTAPs scheme in Medicare Locals, the psychologists, the treatment, and the people receiving the treatment do not fair well.

    Jillian Horton
    Clinical Psychologist

    Reply
  2. 2

    LJG..............

    I think I have posted this elsewhere but as someone who did try the better access program I did not find it helpful and in fact was quite amazed to find that hypnotherapy and dream analysis was really all that was on offer from the nice Psychologist in Toorak. I do actually have an undergraduate degree in Psychology myself and I found these methods outdated and quite meaningless. I know that quite a few of my friends were also sent off by their GP’s as well (hey it was free!!) but very few actually completed all the sessions. Thanks but I’d rather see a Psychiatrist and take medication – and I do.

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