“A lot will suffer”: Counsellor worries about virus package
THOSE left anxious about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic will soon have access to an extra $1.1 billion of mental health support but one Southern Downs counsellor has said it’s still not enough.
On Sunday, the Federal Government said it would set up a dedicated coronavirus wellbeing support line for BeyondBlue, funded with $10 million from the Federal Government and $5 million from Medibank.
But Southern Downs Counselling and Psychotherapy counsellor Graeme Senior said those charities only employed social workers and psychologists, who were not qualified to help manage the evolving crisis.
“I do a lot of my work using telephone and video anyway so the transition hasn’t been that different at all but for others it will be challenging,” he said.
“You need different skillets using a different medium, and while people like Headspace and BeyondBlue do a fabulous job they don’t employ counsellors.
“We do a different job and the charity type of organisation will be overwhelmed because they are not tapping into that large number of qualified counsellors.”
According to Mr Senior, it was a misinterpretation which lead the government to not recognise psychotherapists under the Medicare Benefits Scheme.
“The lack of understanding by the decision makers means that plenty of qualified people who want to help are being cut out,” he said.
“People wouldn’t go to the GP if there was no Medicare rebate, that’s the same with counselling.”
Mr Senior feared it was his clients who would suffer the consequences, with job insecurity being listed as a main concern in the region, following the pandemic.
“We were mentally exhausted before this started, dealing with drought and fires and just recovering,” he said.
“A lot of people were looking forward to things being better this year and it’s just a double whammy.
We’re a very resilient people and we will get through it but a lot will suffer in the meantime.”
Warwick Headspace manager Travis Macguire said the organisation hadn’t had experience in remote psychology because it wasn’t funded by the government until now.
“Up until the last 12 months, there was not a lot of funding around telehealth so it’s been a bit of a learning curve but we have been training to upskill our staff,” he said.
Mr Macguire also welcomed petitioning to open up subsidies for counsellors.
“It would be great if they could attract some kind of subsidy in a different funding scheme,” he said.
“I know in 2011, after the floods, they did see money given to them so people could see them for free for a short term.
“Ideally, it would be opened up, not just in time of crisis, but across the board.”
- If anyone is feel in need of help during the coronavirus crisis, contact BeyondBlue on 1300 137 934