Australia’s Mental Health Services are Overwhelmed

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​According to Dr Khorshid, AMA President, mental health services can’t keep up with Australia’s current demand, the situation may worsen with the current pace of the pandemic.

Dr Khorshid appeared before the Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, alongside AMA (NSW) President Dr Danielle McMullen to discuss the issue. They called for more investments to go into the mental health care sector, as figures show that mental health admissions are growing year on year.

“There are not enough psychiatrists in Australia and there is likely to be increased demand for their services generated by the pandemic,” Dr Khorshid said. “We urgently need an alternative to emergency departments treating people experiencing acute mental ill-health.”

“GPs are frequently the first point of contact on someone’s mental health journey and they need to be resourced to provide appropriate care and treatment pathways, '' Dr McMullen added.

According to them, mental health admissions have had an annual growth of 4.8% since 2013, and they seem to keep growing. The extra pressure is on the Emergency Department and hospital system as admitted individuals are also staying longer in the hospital.

“We know investment in well-designed, medically governed health teams result in better health outcomes and General Practice can oversee stronger coordination of things like older persons’ mental health, mental health nurses, psychologists, paediatricians, counsellors, and drug, alcohol and gambling support. These supports are all key aspects of a patient-centered mental health system,” Dr McMullen also said.

Read: Victorian Government Considers Telehealth Consultations in Euthanasia

The RWAV Awards $100,000 Training Scholarship for the RACGP’s FPS Training

100 GPs in rural and regional Victoria will undergo the RACGP’s Focussed Psychological Strategies Skills Training (FPS) thanks to the Rural Workforce Agency Victoria (RWAV)'s training scholarship.

The scholarship will equip GPs to provide Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy derived counselling to patients, in response to the rising importance of mental health among patients.

According to RACGP Victoria Chair, Dr Anita Muñoz, “The past 12 months have been particularly challenging for Victorians. We are now in our sixth lockdown - lockdowns and restrictions are critical to stopping the spread of Covid-19, but they also have a devastating mental health toll.

“GPs have seen demand for mental health care skyrocket across the state … people are doing it tough all over, but it’s especially hard for those in regional and rural communities that don’t have access to local mental health services, like counselling or psychiatry.”

The first round of scholarships released in February was filled rapidly by GPs from Gippsland, Western Victoria, and Murray. RACGP Rural Chair Dr Michael Clements noted that the scarcity of specialist services in rural and regional Australia means there is a significant demand for mental health services.

According to Dr Clements, “People often don’t realise that GPs provide the vast majority of mental health care in Australia, but it makes sense - a GP is often the first port of call for patients, and it’s magnified in regional and rural communities.

“I encourage GPs in rural and regional Victoria to grab this opportunity and apply for a scholarship - you’ll be helping to increase access to high quality mental health care and making a big difference for your patients and the whole community.”

Read: Rural and remote pharmacies set to begin Covid-19 Vaccine rollout

Authorities Discover 35 New Cases in NSW

35 new cases have been discovered in NSW, 32 of which are in Dubbo. The other 3 are in Mudgee. Authorities note that one of these cases is an individual in Sydney but their residential address is in Mudgee so the case was counted there.

The Dubbo District Athletics Carnival has been tagged as an exposure event, with students and staff around the region identified as close and casual contacts. Fletcher Abattoir, one of the largest employers in Dubbo has also closed for the week.

GP Practices Can Still Enrol in the Pfizer Vaccine Rollout

Any general practice not currently involved in the Covid-19 vaccine rollout can still join, according to the Department of Health. However, they must be currently participating in the National Immunisation Program and meet site requirements.

These practices will receive AstraZeneca doses but can lodge an EOI if they want to join the Pfizer rollout as supply increases.

Most of the practises participating in the rollout have opted into the Pfizer program, and around 1,800 practises are now delivering doses. But GPs that haven't done so can contact their local Primary Health Network to join.

The urgent call comes as the Department of Health works to finalise its schedule to provision the remaining practices with Pfizer by October.

Read: GPs Must Update Registration to Continue Receiving Medicare Benefits

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