Make the Medicare Funded Additional 10 (Covid) Psychology Sessions Permanent

Make the Medicare Funded Additional 10 (Covid) Psychology Sessions Permanent

5 July 2022
Signatures: 1,154Next goal: 1,500
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Why this petition matters

Started by Mary Gregory

As part of the Governments Covid response they increased the number of Medicare Funded psychology sessions to 20 per calendar year.  Access to the additional 10 sessions is going to cease on the 31st of December 2022. The effects of Covid are not over and Mental health isn’t just about Covid. Australian’s still need access to appropriate evidence based mental health care. The increased sessions have benefited many clients and allowed people to access the level of psychological care that is recommended by research. 

The Australian Psychological Society curated a Evidence-based Psychological Interventions in the Treatment of Mental Disorders booklet. The literature review booklet outlines the psychological treatments which have the most research supported evidence.  The majority of these researched treatments were conducted over more than 10 sessions, suggesting that the evidence base for effective treatment is conducted with an assumption that more than 10 sessions will be required.

Australian research has found that to obtain improved outcomes, 70% of clients required over 20 sessions of therapy. Harnett, O’Donovan, and Lambert (2010) found that recovery more treatment with 50% of clients estimated to recover after 14 sessions and 70% of clients required 23 sessions.

The American Psychological Association has recently stated that:

  • Recent research indicates that on average 15 to 20 sessions are required for 50 percent of patients to recover as indicated by self-reported symptom measures.
  • Clinical research evidence suggests that people with co-occurring conditions or certain personality difficulties may require longer treatment (e.g., 12-18 months) for therapy to be effective. There are a few individuals with chronic problems who may require extensive treatment support (e.g., maintenance therapy to reduce risk of psychiatric rehospitalization), but such patients are a minority of those who need or seek treatment.
  • In practice, patients and therapists sometimes prefer to continue treatment over longer periods (e.g., 20 to 30 sessions over six months), to achieve more complete symptom remission and to feel confident in the skills needed to maintain treatment gains.
  • There are a growing number of specific psychological treatments of moderate duration (e.g., 12 to 16 weekly sessions) that have been scientifically shown to result in clinically significant improvements.

The 2020 Productivity Commission Inquiry Report into Mental health found that almost half of people who see a psychologist under Medicare use three or fewer sessions. The implication of this data is that people will not use all the Medicare sessions if they are granted more than they require. The government will not have to subsidise 20 sessions of Medicare for all consumers, only those whose conditions are complex and require longer treatment durations. 

The expense of funding Medicare may motivate the government to cut access to these much needed sessions. The UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights has stated that health (both physical and mental) is a fundamental human right. Please help us convince our government that Australians care about our citizens' right to mental health. We want to see the members of our society with mental illness supported to access the level of help recommended by research. Please sign this petition to ensure the additional 10 sessions are made permanent for all Australians. 

Full Disclosure
I run a psychology practice (PsychHelp) and I am also a passionate advocate for increased access to mental health services. My goal is to ensure people accessing psychology support throughout Australia can access an adequate number of psychology sessions.

This petition was written with assistance from Esther Creagh who run’s Illawarra Psychology. Esther believes that people are unlikely to indulge in unneeded therapy sessions and that individuals accessing over 10 sessions genuinely have a need to do so. Esther advocates for supporting Australians to have access to affordable health care based on need.

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Signatures: 1,154Next goal: 1,500
Support now