Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester is urging locals to reach out for help if their mental health suffers due to the second coronavirus lockdown.
Mr Chester said the Federal Government would provide 10 additional Medicare subsidised psychological therapy sessions for people under restrictions in areas affected by the second wave of the pandemic.
“We cannot underestimate the impact this pandemic is having on our community,” Mr Chester said.
“Many people struggled mentally with their physical isolation from friends and family during the first lockdown. I was touched by the many acts of kindness and caring that I saw occurring across our region earlier this year.
“We need to continue supporting one another in whatever way we can through this second lockdown and accessing professional mental health support will be important for some.”
The additional Medicare subsidised sessions will allow people in eligible areas who have used their 10 sessions to continue to receive mental health care from their psychologist, psychiatrist, GP or other eligible allied health worker.
The new items will apply to people subject to public health orders restricting their movement within the state or territory issued at any time from July 1 this year to March 31 next year, and to people who are required to isolate or quarantine under public health orders.
The $7.3 million in additional support recognises that many people in areas impacted by the second wave of the pandemic will be facing increased emotional and mental stress. This will ensure that Australians can continue to access essential mental health treatment and support at this difficult time.
Patients will be required to have a mental health treatment plan and a review with their GP to access the additional sessions. This measure will begin on Friday August 7 and be available until March 31, 2021.
The Federal Government has announced more than $500 million additional funding for mental health and suicide prevention since January, including Medicare subsidies for telehealth consultations. It has spent more than $5.2 billion on mental health services and suicide prevention in 2019-20.