The Indigo Project, On How Its Providing Mental Health Support

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The demand on mental health services has exploded since the COVID-19 pandemic became a reality for all Australians. Many services have reported an increase in anxiety levels in the public, which is something the team at Sydney-based psychology practice, The Indigo Project, has echoed.

Based in Surry Hills in Sydney, The Indigo Project approaches mental health in a creative and holistic way. According to Rashida Dungarwalla, a registered psychologist at The Indigo Project, the practice’s founder Mary Hoang created a place she would have wanted to go.

“We provide one-on-one therapy and we also hold really cool workshops and courses,”  Dungarwalla told TheLatch —.

“The workshops include a range of themes such as anxiety, perfectionism and relationships and are held over a few hours or a full day. The courses are usually four to six-week programs with a small group and include a range of topics or themes.”

The team at The Indigo Project is made up of 35 therapists. These roles range “from psychologists to psychotherapists and counsellors all from a multitude of diverse backgrounds and interests,” said Dungarwalla.

“We’ve had to close our doors, resulting in transitioning our services to Telehealth until further notice.”

While The Indigo Project continues to provide support to its clients, the team is also navigating a new normal as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The practice is no longer able to conduct face-to-face appointments, which has brought about its own set of challenges.

“We have had to close our doors and physical practice for the foreseeable future, resulting in transitioning our services to Telehealth (video or phone) until further notice,” Dungarwalla said.

This was a hurdle for the team at The Indigo Project, as up until recently, the Government was only offering rebates for practitioners and clients who met certain requirements, which excluded the majority of Australians.

The majority of psychology clients in Australia access therapy via Mental Health Care Plan rebates, which makes treatment much more affordable. But with the restrictions, more Aussie’s were out of pocket for their online appointments, as they weren’t able to claim through Medicare.

For example, a client suffering from severe depression may be choosing to self-isolate. If they were to continue therapy sessions remotely via video calls under the previous rules, the price of these sessions could increase by a minimum of $80.

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We're super happy to announce that we can now legally offer rebates for tele-health sessions where clients have a valid Mental Health Care Plan! Yay!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Thanks to everyone who got behind the cause and signed our petition. This is a huge win for mental health in Australia during this time. We're also offering bulk billed appointments for vulnerable clients and those experiencing financial hardship, so if that's you, you can get the mental health support you need right now.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Check out our IGTV for a bit of sharing from @maryhoangindigo our founder and head psychologist, on the challenges and wins she (and Indigo) is facing during this time.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Our practitioners have availability for the coming weeks, so don't hesitate to reach out to us for a session. We would love to help hold some space for you and support you through what you're moving through right now. ❤️❤️❤️

A post shared by ✖️Get Your Shit Together✖️ (@the_indigo_project) on

In response to this, The Indigo Project was absorbing “this cost off of the client’s session fee in order to ensure people are able to access much-needed support during this challenging time,” Dungarwalla said.

Thankfully, the Australian Government has loosened restrictions, which has been a major help for an independent practice like The Indigo Project.

“The initial limited criteria of who can access Telehealth has been thrown out,” Dungarwalla said.

“Bulk billing options are also available for certain clients which is great for those who have lost jobs or income and are in really difficult financial positions,” Dungarwalla said.

“Having the government allow all Aussies to access telehealth services is also resulting in us combating financial hardship as a practice!”

“With the help of our community, we hope to continue providing this support for a long time to come.”

“We are so passionate about what we do and being able to support during times of crisis like these. With the continued help of our community, we hope we will be able to continue providing this support for a long time to come,” Dungarwalla said.

When it comes to supporting The Indigo Project, keep investing time and money in your own mental health, if you can.

“Ultimately, what may support The Indigo Project right now is actually supporting yourself and that can be done by continuing therapy during this unprecedented, challenging time,” said Dungarwalla.

“We also have our online course ‘Get Your Shit Together’ at 75% off at the moment, so it’s currently down to $50 (it usually costs $540).

“Our therapists are also continuing to see clients via Telehealth and would love to help support you during this time. We are now accessible to people not only nationwide but worldwide.”

For more information, visit The Indigo Project.

If you or anyone you know is struggling and needs support, call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14, both of which provide trained counsellors you can talk with 24/7. You can also speak with someone confidentially at Headspace by calling 1800 650 890 or chat online here.

The current health crisis is evolving rapidly. If you suspect you or a family member has coronavirus you should call (not visit) your GP or ring the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

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