A new low-cost psychology clinic is providing mental health support to the Ballarat community while training the next generation of psychologists.
Federation University's new FedCare Psychology Services is a purpose-built psychology clinic with 10 consulting suites and four telehealth suites, with the ability to provide thousands of consultation hours a year, at the Mt Helen campus.
Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology Dixie Statham said the clinic helped fill a gap in the region's already stretched mental health services.
"In Ballarat it's very difficult to get in to see a psychologist; there are long waiting lists and some practices have closed their books," Dr Statham said.
"We are able to offer a low cost service to people who are either on those waiting lists, or other people who maybe can't afford the gap fee to see a psychologist."
Appointments at the FedCare clinic cost $10 a session, $5 for concession card holders. Patients do not need a mental health care plan from their GP and can self-refer to the service.
Provisionally registered psychologists staff the clinic, overseen by supervising senior clinical psychologists with whom they meet each week.
This year there are 33 fifth-year psychology students, who are studying their Master in Psychology (Clinical) and Master of Professional Psychology, working at the clinic.
Dr Statham said the clinic was a win-win for the students and the community.
"We are a training clinic. We need the public to come in, we need to work with people needing mental health support services so students that are working with clients get that experience.
"We can see a lot more clients at the clinic and we can train a lot more provisional psychologists so we can offer more mental health care to the community."
The provisional psychologists complete about 1000 hours of placement in the FedCare clinic and externally throughout their fifth and sixth years of study to achieve their masters.
Dr Statham said patients at the clinic would "get the best of both worlds" seeing skilled therapists, backed with expert oversight, who through their studies have learned the latest in therapy and evidence-based practice.
The provisional psychologists also work in the community providing outreach services through primary and secondary schools and organisations such as BADAC, and free telehealth services across Victoria through a partnership with Rural Health Connect.
"Taking everything into account, with people coming into the clinic and students doing outreach services, we will have provided around 5000 consultation hours this year," Dr Statham said.
FedCare Psychology Clinic is open Monday to Friday at University Drive, Mount Helen with free parking and good public transport. For inquiries call 5327 8483.
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