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Published: 13 October 2020

Mental health is one of the most neglected areas of public health and AASW National President Ms Christine Craik has cautioned that the consequences of the COVID-19 on people’s mental well being we are already seeing, is just the beginning.

Ms Craik said a serious commitment from all levels of government is needed right now to scale up investment in mental health, otherwise the health, social and economic consequences of the pandemic will be far reaching. 

“It is clear now that people need short and long term mental health support that is responsive to their needs. The increased mental health presentations we are currently experiencing means we will see continued and increasing strain on a workforce with already limited resourcing. 

“Modelling by the Mental Health Commission shows clear evidence that both on the grounds of cost effectiveness and cost savings, there are advantages for governments to invest in a range of preventative interventions. These include telehealth and face to face interventions for the prevention of anxiety disorders in young people, to address loneliness in older persons and to prevent mental health issues from becoming further entrenched in people’s lives”

“The cost savings from these preventative interventions includes less demand on the health budget required for the hospitalization of mental health episodes and the community response to acute events,” she said.

Accredited Mental Health Social Workers (AMHSWs) are the second largest group of providers after the combined group of Clinical Psychologists and Registered Psychologists. They use a wide range of therapeutic interventions, including cognitive behavioural therapy, strengths-based approaches and mindfulness techniques.

People needing mental health specialists can access the service of AMHSWs through several programs including Medicare, NDIS, DVA and some private health funds and will benefit greatly from their skills, knowledge and experience with:

  • More than 40 per cent of AMHSWs provide services in rural and remote areas 
  • More than 60 per cent of AMHSWs have postgraduate qualifications 
  • More than 75 per cent of AMHSWs have over 10 years’ practice experience 

Throughout COVID-19, more than 2,200 AMHSWs working across major cities, regional, rural and remote regions have responded to community needs with their provision of high-quality telehealth services.

The AASW is responsible for the accreditation of AMHSWs and is committed to maintaining the high standard of practice of the profession in this sector. 

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers