If We're Not Increasing Access To Help, We're Not Serious About Mental Health

If you're ignoring the obvious solution, maybe you're not interested in a solution at all.

NOTE: This article contains discussion of mental health issues.

It’s a good thing that people are getting serious about mental health. Or at least, talking about getting serious about mental health seriously.

But until we actually see some improvements to Medicare’s coverage for people seeking help then we should assume that talking about it is all that’s going to happen.

Think of it this way: say a large population of Australians are trapped in a room full of snakes and the federal government of the day announces that they’re serious about reducing the unacceptable and tragic incidence of snakebite.

Fair question.

And then that all of the solutions they suggest are about incentivising not being bitten by snakes, or starting a conversation about why snakebites are bad, or at best providing funding for an online snakebite crisis line for people who need to talk about the venom that’s travelling through their bloodstream.

And then when finally someone asks “hey, how about we get the people out, or at least remove the more aggressive snakes from the room?” they’re accused of politicising the issue, or pointing out that this would blow out the budget for the Department of Snakes And Other Bitey Reptiles, and that we need to snake within our means.

That’s kind of where we are with mental health. Everyone agrees that suicide is a huge problem, especially among young men, and that people are struggling to access limited help under the current system.

And yet, the government is not saying – for example – “Medicare will now cover unlimited access to mental health services, and there will be an active attempt to bring more services and health care professionals available to those that need them” – a move which would immediately and directly help people and go some way to addressing our national mental health crisis.

At the moment if you need mental health services Medicare will provide subdidies for six sessions with a psychologist in a single calendar year.

If you need more – which for people in crisis is a given – it’s possible to get another four if your GP OKs it. After that, it’s up to you.

This doesn’t cover the full cost of sessions – sessions typically cost between about $200 and $600 and Medicare typically covers about 60 per cent of that depending on the length and nature of the consultation – and there’s definitely a wait ahead once you’ve found a doc that can see you. Psychiatrists don’t have a limit, but they’re more expensive.

In a big city that might be as little as four weeks. In a smaller ones, three to six months. In rural or remote areas, it’s telehealth or nothing.

And it should be pointed out that the government is spending record amounts on Medicare and mental health. Of course, since the population is constantly increasing and health is getting more pricey, that’s a great way of making it sound like progress regardless of whether actual service provision is getting better.

And there’s no way of discussing mental health without acknowledging that government decisions strongly impact people’s ability to cope.

We know that poverty and mental health are connected. We know that LGBTIQ+ youth are bullied and commit self-harm at a higher rate. We know that people subjected to domestic violence suffer higher rates of traumatic mental abuse.

So if a government is cutting services to women’s shelters, programmes like Safe Schools and engaging in a “robodebt” system where Centrelink recipients are forced to prove they don’t owe the government money, it’s as though the government are actively releasing more snakes into the room.

There are enough snakes. It’s time to desnake the place – and there’s an obvious first step staring us in the face.

If you need to talk to someone, you can call Lifeline on 131114.

Using Your Phone On The Toilet Will Clog You Up Real Good

There's another reason to enter the chamber unencumbered.

You already know that you shouldn’t use your phone on the toilet. Don’t try to pretend that you don’t.

It’s a germ-heavy environment which your grubby fingers are distributing across your already filthy screen. Also, your toilet already disperses microscopic particles of filth all over everything in your bathroom in what is horrifically called a “toilet plume”.

Say, is your toothbrush in the same room as your dunny? Ah.

Anyway: that’s not the biggest issue with checking your phone on the toilet. It’s that you get your pooing wrong – as in, it can go back up.

In a nutshell: being distracted by your phone makes you spend more time on the can, when you should be there for about ten minutes on average.

First up, the position that toilets demand means you’re just dangling your bum over the hole, and that puts pressure on your rectum – and it’s not great for your hips either, or the nerves in your legs.


Combined with that, the unnaturally long strain on your rectum and anus increases your risk of anal fissures and hemorrhoids. You’re welcome!

But the most terrifying bit is it can lead to “reverse peristalsis”, a benign description for “your poo goes back inside you“.

When your brain says “OK, it’s time to poo,” you should plop it out asap. If you’re distracted by Twitter then that urge can pass and… um, the missile leaves the firing tube.

However, when it does that some of the moisture is absorbed by your body so then that matter gets harder and drier, and thus more difficult to expel.

And you can see how that situation can build on itself until oh dear god let’s not think about it.

Why… why does this gif exist?

Anyway, we’re going in with nothing but a stopwatch from here on in. We suggest you do the same.

Not the one on your phone, though. You’ve been warned.

Your Favourite Auspol Twitter Account Was Probably A Bot

It's like you can't even trust your least trustworthy sources anymore!

A new study before, during and after the Australian federal election has discovered that there was a massive explosion in the number of bots botting it up, potentially including your favourite auspol Twitter account.

Yes, it turns out that that egg with all those hot 4am takes wasn’t a real person after all. Who’d have thought?

Damn tireless bots.

The analysis by the Queensland University of Technology looked at Twitter from April 22 to May 28 and found that literally thousands of accounts – thirteen per cent of ’em, specifically – were “very likely” to be bots.

The researchers made a program to analyse the behaviour of 54k Twitter accounts sending over a million tweets in total, looking at things like”did they tweet 24 hours a day?”, “were said tweets at suspiciously scheduled-looking intervals?: and “did they and their followers have names that didn’t look like actual names?”

it turned out that politically-charged humans tended to tweet from Sydney and Melbourne and politically charged bots tended to tweet from Brooklyn, of all places. What, are bots the new hipsters now?

And before you go “eh, Twitter, who cares?” it’s worth noting that your favourite auspol Twitter account may have been one.

One of the researchers doing this analysis – Dr Timothy Graham – had previously done an analysis of US election-influencing and found that bot accounts were more influential (or, at least, were retweeted more often) than actual humans writing insightful political analysis for your edification.

Seriously, what do you people want from us???


Now, this doesn’t suggest that bots made all the difference in our election… but people don’t bother with these sorts of large-scale bot campaigns if they don’t think they’ll work.

So next time you’re tempted to retweet that sizzling burn by NedK677666P, whose picture is a Southern Cross tatt despite supposedly dwelling in the Five Boroughs, maybe hit the report button instead.


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