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Experts are calling for expanded Medicare rebates during the COVID-19 crisis

Telehealth will be funding boost in a $1.1 billion coronavirus package. Source: AAP

Mental health services have experienced a rise in demand as Australians seek help during the COVID-19 pandemic

With a rise in the number of people seeking mental health support during the COVID-19 crisis, experts are calling for expanded Medicare rebates.

The Australian Association of Psychologists wants Telehealth bulk billing to cover all phone or video consultations.

Many struggling in isolation include migrants who fled war zones, and are re-experiencing a range of stress disorders.

Kenan Rahmanovic vividly remembers fleeing Sarajevo as a teenager with his family when the war broke out.

He arrived in Melbourne as a refugee in 1995.

Now 40, he can still remember the food shortages during the lead-up to the Bosnian War in 1992.

Now a clinical psychologist working in Melbourne’s multicultural suburb of Coburg, Mr Rahmanovic says many of his clients who migrated to Australia after traumatic events are struggling to cope.

Mental health services like Mr Rahmanovic's have experienced a rise in demand as Australians seek help during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result, the Federal Government has expanded Medicare subsidies for Telehealth - a consultation over the phone - to the entire population, as part of a $1.1 billion package. 

The funding boost will allow all Australians with a mental health care plan to consult their health practitioner by phone or video call, such as FaceTime or Skype, meaning they can still access mental health services while quarantining or socially distancing at home.

The President of the Australian Psychologists Association, Anne Marie Collins, says with the increase in fear and anxiety as a result of the virus, people need access to as much help as they can get.

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