The National Mental Health Commission (NMHC) is determined that tonight’s Federal Budget announcements will help fill the “real gaps” which have been identified in Australia’s approach to mental health prevention and intervention.
NMHC Chair, Lucy Brogden, said that suicide rates were still on the increase and suicide is now the leading cause of death among 15 to 34-year-olds.
“Just as tragic is the fact that Indigenous Australians are taking their own life at twice the rate of the non-Indigenous Australian population,” she said.
“Too many Australians are experiencing mental health conditions, issues which are more often than not preventable and treatable. The Commission will work to ensure that the right programs are put in place, along with the resources and dollars to match.”
Since 2012, the Commission has been working with the health and suicide prevention sectors, with lived experience, clinicians, academics and service providers to help build a system which supports all Australians across their lifespan.
“The Commission seeks ongoing consultation, to make sure that the impacts of programs and services are measured and that they are delivered to the people and places at most need,” Lucy Brogden added.
Some of the key take-outs from the 2019 Budget.
- A real-time account of suicide underpins a renewed unified national focus.
- An Australian Government-led national mental health workplace initiative will be priceless for the 12.6 million working Australians.
- The Minister has also announced a revitalised plan for long-awaited dedicated support for mothers throughout their maternity journey and lastly, and the Government has invested in a trial of adult walk-in mental health centres in eight areas across the community.
As the lead agency in Australia’s largest collective commitment to mental health and wellbeing in our workplaces, the Commission will coordinate a four-year program for the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance with funds from this year’s Federal Budget.
The Commission looks forward to assisting the Government as it establishes a Special Adviser for Suicide Prevention within the Prime Minister’s portfolio. This position is expected to coordinate activities across the whole-of-government and assist in the design of essential services.
Lucy Brogden said these are all valuable initiatives but like all policies would require review and assessment.
“Access to quality mental health services and programs, regardless of your age, postcode or social and financial situation, is the foundation of our health system. Our mental health system needs to address barriers to access, and ensure that affordability are not barriers to wellness,” she added.
“We still have gaps in our current system, and inconsistencies in the delivery of connected support at all levels of need. The Commission is determined that these gaps and identified and rectified. We will continue to work closely with governments, private and community health providers, the mental health sector, carers and consumers, to ensure that everyone, regardless of where or when their need occurs, regardless in what setting they find themselves, has access to the support and care they need.
“This is a good start to build upon the great work and commitment that already exists in the mental health sector, and to build strong networks and resources for our workforce to address the critical needs for everyone who experience mental ill health in our workplaces.
“We are also acutely aware of the need to build up our mental health workforce so that they can deliver the services as and when they are needed. We need more people electing to study and work as mental health experts.
“The 2019 Federal Budget gives us hope but there is still much to do.”