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New subsidy for GP mental health training


Matt Woodley


1/09/2021 5:22:38 PM

With many parts of Australia struggling with COVID-19, the support has been described as more important than ever.

GP talking to a patient.
GPs who complete the training will become Medicare registered Focussed Psychological Service providers.

The General Practice Mental Health Standards Collaboration (GPMHSC) is offering GPs a $600 subsidy after completing Focussed Psychological Strategies Skills Training.
 
Applications to claim the subsidy open on 1 September 2021 and RACGP President Dr Karen Price said the COVID situation in Australia means GPs with specialised mental health skills are needed more than ever.
 
‘The pandemic is not only having a devastating toll on physical health, it’s wreaking havoc on mental health,’ she said.
 
‘GPs are seeing more and more patients coming to us who are feeling anxious, stressed and want help ... we are often the first port of call for patients with concerns.
 
‘More than ever, it’s important that we have affordable and accessible mental health care services available to every community. 
 
‘This will help to make a real difference in increasing access to specialised mental health care to the communities that really need it.’
 
GPs who complete the training become Medicare registered Focussed Psychological Service providers, and can provide Focussed Psychological Strategies (FPS) and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy-derived counselling to patients.
 
Rural and remote GPs are being encouraged to take up the opportunity in particular. RACGP Rural Chair Dr Michael Clements said it is essential to improve access to mental health care in rural and remote communities.
 
‘It’s especially challenging for people in rural and remote communities, because they often don’t have access to local mental health services, such as psychologists, counsellors and psychiatrists,’ he said.
 
‘As a rural GP myself, I know there is huge demand for mental health services from the local GP.
 
‘Rural patients tend to have known their GP for a long time and trust them as a confidant, so when it comes to their mental health they often want to see them for help.
 
‘And GPs are perfectly placed to provide this help due to the nature of general practice – we provide holistic and ongoing care to patients, we have insights into our patients lives, and can often be the first one to recognise that something is not quite right and start that conversation.’
 
The RACGP Rural Chair, who completed FPS training after floods struck Townsville in 2019, encouraged GPs across the country to take up the training opportunity.
 
‘After my community was affected by flooding, I saw my role suddenly change from being a GP to a flood counsellor as well. I recognised that my patients needed more specialised mental health support, and so I did the training,’ he said.
 
‘I encourage GPs right across Australia, including big cities and remote communities, to grab this opportunity – you’ll be helping to increase access to affordable and effective mental health services for those in need.
 
‘Everyone deserves access to high quality care, including mental health care, regardless of their postcode.’ 
 
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