Published in The Ararat Advocate, Ararat's weekly newspaper published by West Vic News Pty Ltd.
AN Ararat counsellor has been the latest mental health professional to close her books, leaving dozens to fend for themselves.
Karen Ceccon offers counselling services and therapy via her business, Ararat Wellness, and is a certified behavioral practitioner with the NDIS.
She says the complete upheaval of life as we knew it is the catalyst for the surge in mental ill-health that has left her with no choice but to turn her back on people in need.
“It is awful because as a counsellor, we're carers. We want to help everyone,” she said.
“What I'm almost having to do at the moment is triage my clients… I’ve had to prioritise who is at the most risk currently, and whoever else is not in a crisis situation, has to basically get through it on their own.”
Ms Ceccon said she is the only NDIS certified behavioral practitioner between Ballarat and Rainbow, working up to 80 hours some weeks to provide support for clients.
“It is just constant phone calls, report writing, trying to manage crisis after crisis because everyone's just exhausted,” she said.
“I'm seeing a lot of teenagers, high anxiety rates, I'm seeing a lot of domestic violence, I'm seeing marriages break down.”
The counsellor currently has 45 active NDIS and private clients, half of which reside in the Ararat district, and another 30 are on her waiting list.
“I've got to the point where if I don't start bringing on more practitioners underneath me, I'm going to burn out really quick,” Ms Ceccon said.
She is looking for anyone with a bachelor’s in psychology, social work or counselling, who is interested in gaining employment at Ararat Wellness, to get in touch.
Ms Ceccon said a change to Medicare rebates would also go a long way in helping the mental health system.
“The government only provides social workers and psychologists with mental health care plan patients. So as skilled counsellors, we don't get the Medicare rebate,” she said.
“There is such a massive number of skilled counsellors out there that can pull the weight, take the burden off the psychologists, but the government just doesn't give us the mental health care rebate.”
Anyone interested in employment can contact Karen via firstname.lastname@example.org, and anyone who needs support can contact Beyond Blue (1800 512 348), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) or Lifeline (13 11 14).