Qualified mental health nurses have training and knowledge to support the ailing healthcare system, but are largely ignored.

Thursday 25 August 2022

Responding to this morning’s article in The Guardian, the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (ACMHN) urges the Federal Government first consider giving Credentialed Mental Health Nurses (CMHNs) greater access to MBS items rather than provisional psychologists.

In the article, the Australian Association of Psychologists Inc (AAPi) suggests allowing provisional psychologists – in their last stages of supervised practice before achieving full registration – be able to provide services under Medicare. This could allow more psychologists to see more consumers, thus relieving pressure on an overloaded sector, but the ACMHN advocates for using the readily available CMHN workforce.

“The College supports the AAPi’s call for more funding for the sector, however granting CMHNs greater access to MBS items offers significantly better impact for the patient population most in need of additional mental health services. CMHNs have an evidenced track record of successfully offering clinical services to those with moderate to complex needs” ACMHN CEO Stephen Jackson said.

“CMHNs have very similar but broader skills and training of psychologists with the addition of the knowledge and skills for physical healthcare and medications but they are severely limited in their access to MBS where they would greatly assist in the mental health skills shortage. Let them help.”

CMHNs can work individually or with GPs and psychiatrists as part of a team treating the ‘missing middle’ – those often too unwell for primary care, but not unwell enough for state-based services, ensuring better outcomes for consumers. However, due to being sidelined by government policies, CMHNs are limited in what they can do as they can only claim against a small number of MBS item numbers.

“CMHNs can act as a circuit breaker, helping those with moderate to complex needs. By giving them access to better funding, this could potentially relieve pressure on the mental healthcare system and potentially reduce the number of people presenting at emergency with mental health issues,” Mr Jackson said. 


Australian College of Mental Health Nurses press release, mental health nursing

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