2020 has been a year of twists and turns with the normalcy of life being challenged every day. Add to the mix economic downfall, social anxieties, redundancies and redeployments – the list keeps getting longer. If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that 2020 has been a rough year.

With the pandemic taking a toll on our mental health, an important question to ask your employees, is whether they are able to get help when they need it?

This recent report on the mental health help on ABC news indicates the growing need and mismatched support that revolves around mental health care in Australia. 

The number of Australians getting psychological care has exploded since Medicare rebates were introduced in 2006. However, the report indicates that about 600 Australians shared experiences with them about how this was not enough support to bear the high costs, inaccessibility and time consumption that mental health care usually takes. 

“My quality of life goes up significantly when I can have a session every fortnight, then it goes right down again when I can’t. When I’m doing well, I can work a bit and take care of myself. When I’m not well, I can’t leave the house, can’t sleep, can’t care for myself or my child. It’s cost me years of my life, struggling, being poor, unable to access proper health care and feeling like a useless burden on society.” 

-Mike, Wollongong 

The recommended rate for a psychologist is $260 per session, while an initial consult with a psychiatrist costs around $400. You only get a portion back from Medicare and the rebate can take a couple of days. 

The number of one-on-one psychology sessions you can receive a rebate on has just been increased from a maximum of 10 per year to 20, in response to the pandemic. Beyond this, you’re paying full fees. 10 sessions are just not enough for people that require extensive care. 

The extra sessions are only available until June 2022, despite the Government’s own Medicare taskforce recommending that people should be able to access up to 40 sessions, depending on their needs.

Unfortunately, money isn’t the only barrier, according to the news report, people that wanted to access counselling and mental health services found it difficult to reach. Most of the mental health centres that were affordable were either too far away, required long commutes or had long wait lists. 

“It took over six weeks after a particular crisis before I was able to see a psychologist. I just had to soldier on, which is very dangerous in a mental health crisis.”

Cathy, New South Wales

Moreover, with busy work schedules, many Australians found it difficult to allocate time to physically attend their meetings. Appointments require adherence to a time schedule that working employees just cannot meet on some days, they also require one hour of uninterrupted time along with the time involved with the commute, which many Australians aren’t able to commit to. 

Mental health these days is just as important, or even more important than physical health. Supporting your employees mental health is essential to ensure high morale and better productivity – Happy employees are productive employees. The best way you can help your employees navigate through these tough times is to provide them with the best support you can. 

Career Money Life offers EAP programs to all affected employees. Our range of EAP programs include counselling sessions, access to mental health professionals and on demand services whenever they need it the most. Our services and suppliers are present nation-wide, all across Australia and can be accessed easily, either virtually or in person. If your employees are looking for something apart from counselling, Career Money Life also hosts a range of informative content and e-books as well as wellness packages including yoga, flotation therapy, spa packages and more. 

To find out more about how you can support your employees better, read more about our EAP offerings here.

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