The Federal Government’s budget firmly demonstrates a commitment to making the mental health of our nation a top priority, according to the National Mental Health Commission. The Government will invest $338.1 million over the next 4 years in a range of worthy initiatives.
The Commission’s CEO, Dr Peggy Brown AO said the Commission’s annual budget increase of $3.1million will strengthen its important role to identify what’s working and what’s not in the mental health and suicide prevention systems, and to provide advice to government and the community, to achieve better outcomes for people who need mental health support.
“This includes monitoring and reporting on the implementation of the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan and aspects of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) relating to psychosocial disability,” Dr Brown said.
“The mental health sector is looking for significant improvement from these reforms and it's important to know whether the desired outcomes are being achieved.”
The Commission’s Chair Lucy Brogden praised the Government’s commitment to the mental health of all Australians and noted that the mental health funding announced in the budget will enable the delivery of improved services and programs.
“The Commission has a suicide target towards zero. The government’s provision of $33.8 million towards Lifeline to significantly boost its telephone service and $37.6 million to beyondblue to provide aftercare following a suicide attempt will provide vital help to many people who have reached a crisis point in their lives,” Mrs Brogden said.
“Older Australians in residential care will also benefit from the $82.5 million committed to ensuring that they can receive adequate mental health support when they require it. In addition, those over the age of 75 years living in the community whose mental and physical health are at risk because of social isolation and loneliness will also receive support from a $20 million mental health nurse led service .
“Digital mental health services are a cost-effective treatment option for many people seeking help for mental health issues. Further supporting the Government’s Head to Health service through $4.7 million for an improved telephone service and enhanced portal provides for greater accessibility for anyone seeking help is a welcome investment.”
Dr Brown also commended the much needed focus on mental health research, with $125 million over 10 years going to the Million Minds Mission from the Medical Research Future Fund.
“Ongoing research into the causes, prevention and treatment of mental illness is critical for reducing its prevalence and impact. This initiative will assist an additional one million people who might not otherwise be part of mental health research and clinical trials, to access new approaches to diagnosis, treatment and recovery,” Dr Brown said.
“The needs of rural Australians have not been overlooked, with $20.4 million provided to the Royal Flying Doctor Service to enhance their mental health outreach services. For many Australians who are not otherwise able to access mental health care, this will be a much needed boost,” she said.
Mrs Brogden concluded: “While there remains a high level of need for mental health and suicide prevention services across the nation, the commitment shown by this Government to meeting that need is exemplary.”