The views expressed in this post are mine and mine alone.
##This was suppose to be a video, but my tic’s are really bad at the moment and I feel that they are really obvious on video. I also stutter when I am nervous. So here is the “script” notes. The good thing about text is that I can cite my references easily so you can see I’m not making it up ##
Tomorrow, Monday, the 17th of September, The Alliance for Better Access is running a national awareness campaign to high light the effect that the proposed cuts will have on everyday people.
For those who don’t know what the Better Access Scheme let me explain.
The Better Access Scheme was set up by the Howard Government in order for everyday people to access psychological service for up to 18 Medicare rebatable sessions per calendar year. The current government is planning on cutting 44% from the current budget reducing the maximum sessions per calendar year to 10.
I want to put a face to these cuts. That behind all the political rubbish there are people suffering. Vulnerable people.
I have friends and family who are currently engaged with a psychologist. My friends and family have been with the same psychologist since the inception of the Better Access Scheme. Over those years (one friend has been with same psychologist for over 4 years) a relationship is firmly established, one of trust and support. Most of my friends who are in treatment require weekly or fortnightly sessions. In a study by Anderson & Lambert (2001) they found that a MINIMUM of 25 sessions is a reasonable treatment period for significant results to be seen.
We need to do a basic sum here, to see how these cuts will effect everyday people. The sum is self explanatory.
That’s 36 weeks without support for what can be deadly mental disorders.
It is cold comfort to those who have lost a loved one to suicide, when Ms Gillard and Mr Butler say if people need more intensive treatment than 10 sessions can see a psychiatrist. What if people can’t afford a private psychiatrist? They either have to wait for the public system to find someone “suitable” or if/when they do have a psychiatrist, for some, the clinical methods of psychiatry aren’t suitable to their personalities. This is no one’s fault. Different types of talk therapy work for some and not for others. Just like in every other medical (applied science) practice, psychology has more than one approach to help people. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it till I believe someone has heard me.
You wouldn’t ask a cancer patient to only have 10 rounds of radio-therapy or chemo-therapy. Nor would ask a diabetic to only have 10 shots of insulin a year. Why? Because you know it would kill them. We know that mental illness is deadly, we have epidemic suicide rates in Australia not to mention alarming reports of increasing numbers of people presenting with cutting to Australian emergency departments (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-09-14/alarm-over-self-harm-rates/4261876; ABS 2006). Also given the overwhelming empirical evidence that supports the assertion that psychological intervention can have a dramatic positive effect on the life out comes for real people. Adding to this, we know from clinical studies that it takes a minimum 25 sessions for the average person to show a clinically significant change. So how is it ethically and morally justifiable to cut access to psychologists down from 18 sessions to 10 sessions per calendar year?
Ms Gillard and Mr Butler, who are you to put a time limit on recovery? Who are you to control the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in society? If these cuts take place, I believe vulnerable people will be at HIGHER risk of self harm. Who are you to decided how long it takes for someone to get better?
So I am asking you, my Dearest reader to please go to http://betteraccess.net/ and sign the two petitions running and read more about how these cuts will hurt everyday Australians.
Come and join us outside RMIT University (Latrobe Street, City) from 10.30am – 2pm and sign our petition. If your very kind to me I’ll give you a balloon. I’m just that kind of girl.
After RMIT, We will be making our way to ACU on Victoria Parade and collecting signature from 2.30pm -??? Balloons will also be available. Please check the web-site for details for you city. This is a National Day and we need to bring the message home.
Thank you so much for reading this far. Now click the link and sign and you’ll be my favourite reader…