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More investment in mental health support continues during unparalleled time

06 Oct 2020
The National Mental Health Commission (the Commission) supports tonight’s ongoing commitment to Australia’s mental health and wellbeing in the 2020-21 Federal Budget.

The Commission’s CEO, Christine Morgan, welcomed the continuing commitment to mental health reform and long-term structural change given the extraordinary economic times Australia finds itself.

“We are living through an unparalleled health and mental health challenge where we have seen an additional investment of more than $500 million in mental health and wellbeing support from Government that has helped respond to the pandemic prior to this Budget,” said Ms Morgan.

“Transformation and expansion of existing services has been core to this response, with a clear standout being the rapid rollout of Medicare subsidised mental health services via telehealth. This has been a game changer for access to affordable treatment for Australians, demonstrating some system reforms can occur very quickly when warranted.

“Tonight’s $100.8m investment in the expansion of the number of Medicare supported mental health sessions from 10 to 20 per year puts all Australians needing mental health treatment on a level playing field regardless of whether you are living under restrictions as a result of public health orders or not. It also recognises the quantum of support Australians may need as they face bushfire and pandemic related mental health challenges over the next two years,” said Ms Morgan.

“While not everyone needs 20 psychological sessions each year, we know that for people who use up their ten sessions and who need more, it can be very hard to ‘wait until the new year’ to gain access to another ten sessions. Given we are in a pandemic and in an economic situation where times will be tough for many, it is appropriate this measure is announced now”.

The Commission’s Advisory Board Chair, Mrs Lucy Brogden AM, noted that Australia’s long-term recovery from the pandemic is inextricably linked to our mental wellness and our ability to respond to the challenges we will need to face over the coming months and years.  The Commission particularly notes the commitment to improving services to Australians living in rural and remote communities.

“The Commission is committed to ensuring that the mental health of all Australians continues to be prioritised now, through recovery, and as the Government makes the necessary structural changes to our mental health system Mrs Brogden said.