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by Naomi Bernauer | February 7, 2023

As of January 2023, The Better Access Program implemented by the Australian Federal Government has reverted the subsidised mental health sessions from 20 back to 10, as it was pre-COVID.

The decision was made following an independent review of the program by the University of Melbourne which Health Minister Mark Butler said had “aggravated existing waiting lists”.

Butler’s decision has left Australians with reduced access to bulk-billed mental health care in a time of global, personal and economic stress following three years of pandemic-related turbulence.

How does this affect Australians wanting mental health care?

Research has found that for 50% of patients, between 13-18 sessions are required to see an improvement. This number may increase in cases with co-occurring mental health conditions or long-term conditions.

With the median gap fee at $90, this has meant that almost 70 per cent of people receiving psychology treatments are paying out-of-pocket.

Reducing the number of subsidised sessions could mean that many Australians may not be able to afford to access the treatment required for long-term recovery due to financial restraints.

What services are available outside of the Better Access Program?

At Stride, we are committed to supporting the community and finding ways to provide care to those who may have difficulty accessing the support they need from the current clinical mental health care system. As a charity organisation, our funding is largely from grants and donations which enable us to provide a variety of mental health services to the community.

Stride Safe Haven’s and Safe Spaces

Offering a welcoming, accessible space where no referral or appointment is required for visitors to access immediate mental health support.

The concept relies largely on creating a space that has been designed in partnership with people who have been through tough times themselves and understand what support does and doesn’t work.

Our trained Peer Support Workers assist guests to use sensory tools and create take-home strategies that work for their life. The spaces are designed utilising a sensory modulation approach; this means they are designed with a focus on inviting and tactile experiences that help guests ground their senses.

Stride’s Safe Havens/Spaces are growing and evolving through an ongoing process of co-creation with local communities. We now have locations open in Blacktown and Wollongong in NSW, Belconnen in the ACT and Caboolture in QLD.

Head to Health

Adult mental health centres provide a safe and welcoming space for adults, their family and friends, who may be in distress or crisis, or need help finding the right mental health services for their individual needs. 

Stride currently operates Head to Health Launceston (Tasmania), however there are pop-up clinics across the country available to adults.

You can access Head to Health centres by calling 1800 595 212 or by visiting your nearest centre. Head to Health centres provide free services. No appointment or GP referral is required.

Crisis Support Services

In addition to our services, there are several organisations that provide support and education for people with mental illness and their families and carers throughout Australia.

eheadspace service

A service for young people aged 12-25 years offering free online and telephone support and counselling. Call 1800 650 890, 9am – 1am AEST / 7 days a week, chat online or email.

Access the full list of crisis support services here.

If you’d like to learn more about Stride’s services visit our website. If you’d like to help us in our mission to help anyone experiencing a mental health concern start their journey to recovery, we welcome your donation and supportFind out more about how you can help us here.

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