“Recently, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke on the Productivity Commission’s report on mental health. Many findings were deeply concerning.
Globally, suicide remains the leading cause of death for young people. The commission’s report concluded that up to half of those who die by such means in Australia don’t interact with the mental health system in the months leading up to their deaths.
Moreover, nearly half of all people with a mental health care plan attend up to just 3 of their 10 allotted therapy sessions, concluding that care is often ‘below best practice’, and judging the current GP treatment model ineffective in directing people to the specific treatment required.
It’s important to note that this report was released before the rise of COVID-19, which has both exacerbated mental ill-health as well as providing additional obstacles to adequate service accessibility.
It becomes harder to attend appointments when social distancing and self-isolation requirements limit your mobility.
While a proposed solution calls for the replacement of the current treatment model with an online diagnostic tool, there is reasonable opposition from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners acting president associate professor Ayman Shenouda, who insists correct care and diagnosis relies on developing therapeutic alliances and exploring symptoms with patients over time.
Possibly, a better way forward may be the integration of both. A clinically effective online tool may save precious time and pin-point an appropriate diagnosis, to be further explored in face-to-face consults. Patients additionally become more empowered with greater autonomy as they are better informed and more involved in the process.
The post-COVID mental health crisis demands a culture shift more than ever to help people access the support and treatment they need, but it must be done in ways that work around the pandemic challenges we currently face, with a focus on what we can do, Right Now, to better help the rising number of those in need.”