Psychological Services during COVID-19

At Life in Perspective, I am committed to continue providing psychological services within the limitations of the evolving Coronavirus (COVID-19) circumstances and in compliance with Federal and State Government guidelines to the best of my ability. 

New Medicare Better Access (MBS) telehealth items/services

As part of the Australian Government’s response to COVID-19, new temporary Medicare Better Access (MBS) telehealth items have been introduced to help clients access psychological services by either videoconferencing or telephone. The new items will substitute the normal face to face consultations until further notice. The goal with the telehealth options is to reduce the risk of community transmission of the Coronavirus and to provide protection for clients and health care providers while continuing to provide essential Mental Health support services.

Limitations of telehealth

In some instances, telehealth services may not be clinically safe or appropriate. Services may be disrupted due to various reasons and clients will need access to a quiet, private space and the appropriate device, i.e. smartphone, laptop, iPad, computer with a camera, microphone and speakers and a reliable broadband internet connection. Furthermore, privacy of any form of communication via the internet is potentially vulnerable and limited by the security of the technology used. To support the security of your personal information, I use Coviu, a platform that is compliant with the Australian standards for online security and end-to-end encryption. You will be given a choice of your preferred telehealth option, either telephone or videoconferencing consultations.

Eligibility for attendance of telehealth services

All Medicare cardholders, located in Australia, are now eligible to access the services. However, you will need a valid referral on a Mental Health Treatment Plan (MHTP) from your GP. If you have already been referred on a MHTP that is still valid, you do not need to obtain a new referral specific to telehealth. Currently, the number of sessions remains up to 10 consultations per calendar year. If you do not have a referral on a MHTP and you do have private health cover, please contact your fund directly to enquire if they rebate for telehealth services. Most funds announced that they do.

Practice matters

The duration of consultations is 50 minutes unless otherwise agreed based on individual needs. Fees will be agreed on a case by case basis. I consult on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. My first appointment starts at 9am and the last appointment commences at 4:30 pm. Please take note that my official practice hours are from 9am until 5pm. My business telephone and mobile phone will not be answered outside of office hours. If you would send an email, leave a voice message or send a text message outside of business hours, I will reply as soon as possible the next business day.

Help and support

Please find contact details of support services in case of an emergency - these are listed on our Contact Us page.

The effect of COVID-19

With a pandemic like COVID-19, we are all experiencing collective grieving due to the loss of normality, employment, income, autonomy and personal freedom, but most of all the loss of connection due to social distancing and isolation. Furthermore, we are experiencing anticipatory grief due to uncertainty of what the future holds. It is normal to experience various emotions that present in trigger waves. These are normal human emotions, reactive to abnormal circumstances. Yet, everyone’s experience will be unique.

Self-care and coping strategies

Remember, this pandemic is temporary. It will pass. Find a new routine and be creative with how you spend your time – one day at a time. Stay connected as much as possible with extended family and friends via technology. Focus on finding a new purpose and meaning in the changed circumstances. Collectively, we can all come through this challenging time stronger. Please take special care and stay as safe as possible. I hope that you will find the tip sheets below helpful.

Ansie Cloete

Tips for coping with coronavirus anxiety
Maintaining your mental health during social isolation
Coronavirus (COVID-19) anxiety and staying mentally healthy (for older adults).

Content up to date as at 12pm on 9 April 2020