One of the nation's leading mental health experts has called on the federal government to expand its resources and prevent hundreds of thousands of Australians "falling into the gap".
In an article submitted to News Limited today (May 7), former Australian of the Year Patrick McGorry has stated that the public mental health system – namely the government's Better Access program – must undergo a significant review in order to ensure its longevity.
"The foundations of Better Access need to be strengthened and the next stage of the building designed and constructed as soon as possible, so that hundreds of thousands of Australians do not continue to fall into the gap between primary care – and the tertiary and beleaguered public mental health system," Professor McGorry wrote.
"The public mental health system in turn needs root-and-branch reform and re-engineering after more than a decade of totally unevaluated and unreviewed operation and decline."
According to the federal government's Private Health Insurance Ombudsman, one in five Australians will experience some form of mental illness in their lifetime.
Currently a Medicare rebate of up $120 can be claimed if a Mental Health Treatment Plan and referral is obtained from a GP – however access to psychology service may also be covered by some private health insurance policies.