Should treatments for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) be covered under the National Disability Insurance Scheme?
According to Sydney Morning Herald, mental health professionals are pressuring Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese to include ADHD on the NDIS.
In July, psychologists and psychiatrists attended a Senate Committee arguing for more people with ADHD be included on the NDIS. Currently, over 800,000 children have an ADHD diagnosis. Only 5,000 currently access the NDIS.
According to SMH’s Natassia Chrysanthos, in the past five years, the number of Australians being medicated for ADHD has more than doubled. Figures show that more than 400,000 people take medication for the neurodevelopmental disorder. Awareness and education have been attributed to the spike.
That’s a huge spike!
What the Senate Inquiry recommended
So, why are psychologists and psychiatrists pushing for more children with ADHD be put on the NDIS?
Because Medicare has proven to be grossly inadequate. Waiting lists are too long and too many parents can’t afford to get their children assessed or treated.
The Senate Inquiry recommended changes the Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
The findings recommended a nationwide approach to treatment and research:
It is clear that a more consistent and coordinated approach is needed across government systems to ensure these systems are accessible to people with ADHD.
Other submissions pointed out the need for access to Occupational Therapists (OTs), psychologists and speech therapists.
Adult ADHD and potential risks
ADHD is often looked down upon. Some people say that it ‘wasn’t a thing’ ten years ago.
Often, ADHD is stereotyped as children (particularly boys), misbehaving. However, there is a lot more to ADHD. And it can have devastating consequences if not managed properly.
Potential risks for adults with unmanaged ADHD can include:
1. Car accidents and dangerous behaviour: According to Very Well Mind, adults with ADHD can be easily distracted while driving. People with ADHD are also more prone to risk – taking behaviour, such as speeding.
2. Anxiety: According to Very Well Health, people with ADHD often suffer from anxiety. The comorbidity rate is around 50%.
3. Substance use disorder: Many studies show that adults with ADHD are likely to be addicted to nicotine. They are 50% more likely than the general population to have a drug or alcohol use disorder.
4. Difficulties in the workplace: Adults face many issues in the workplace, especially around staying on task and communicating.
5. Difficulty in self – esteem, emotional regulations and relationships: People with ADHD often struggle with self – esteem, emotional regulation and relationships.
In romantic relationships, people with ADHD may be able to ‘mask’ their symptoms initially. However, the longer a relationship goes on, hyper focusing on a partner may turn to ignoring.
Due to low self – esteem, people with ADHD may constantly seek out reassurance from their partner/s. They may constantly question their partner/s’ love and commitment. This can put a strain on the relationship, as trust slowly erodes away.
What is the answer?
I have sympathy for people with conditions like ADHD. I’m all for early diagnosis and intervention. People with ADHD deserve to get the support they need.
However, I’m not sure that increasing the number of participants on the NDIS is the answer. Many people with neurodivergence and/ or mental illnesses have been let down badly by the National Disability Insurance Agency already.
I think fixing Medicare, making psychology free and accessible is a potential answer. Trying to fit more and more people on the NDIS will only end badly.
What do you think? Should people with ADHD have access to the NDIS? Or is there another solution? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.