Mental health nurse psychotherapists are excluded from providing subsidised psychotherapy services.

Tuesday 28 February 2023 

The Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (ACMHN) acknowledges the work of last night’s ABC Four Corners team to create ‘Fading Away: Australia’s secret battle with eating disorders’ and throw light on the “appallingly underprepared” Australian health system in crisis with the demand for support and treatment for individuals with eating disorders. 

As Four Corners highlighted, over a million Australians are currently experiencing eating disorders with limited access to healthcare professionals. With the social impact of Covid-19 adding to the stress levels faced by the population, there has been an ‘80-100% increase in anorexia patient numbers in children in the last three years’. 

“Current best practice in the treatment of eating disorders includes the role of psychotherapy, including family therapy. However, we are concerned that the current manualised approach to psychotherapy for eating disorders Family Based Therapy (FBT) while favoured politically, has serious limitations, and misses the mark for many families,” said Claire Hudson-McAuley, ACMHN Psychotherapy Special Interest Group Chair.

“FBT is not trauma informed, and FBT assumes parents are both able and willing to be actively involved and responsible. Mental health nurses (MHNs) and MHN psychotherapists must have access to greater MBS item numbers through Better Access to relieve pressure and assist,” added Hudson-McAuley.

With Federal Health Minister the Hon Mark Butler MP claiming, ‘we need to do better’ and offer ‘clarity around the support’ provided to Australians by health professionals, the ACMHN emphasises that MHNs can help deliver the mental health care needed.

MHNs offer full time, effective help to address the access issues and gaps in the system, with Australian parents currently ‘fighting to keep their children alive.’

We implore the federal and state governments to address the “very serious pressure” on the capacity of the health system by rethinking the role that MHNs could play in addressing the mental health needs of many Australians.

For further comment, please contact ACMHN Media Officer, Sophie Howard on: (02) 6285 1078.


Australian College of Mental Health Nurses press release

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