Greater need for community support

New statistics show the incidence of mental health illness is on the rise across the nation.

Four million Australians experienced common mental disorder in 2015, according to the figures, while $9 billion was spent on mental health-related care.

Latest figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Mental Health Services in Australia, report this month showed mental health-related expenditure had tripled in the past 20 years.

Plus almost 10 per cent of Australians have used a Medicare-subsidised mental health service last financial year. That’s up 6 per cent in eight years.

About 96,300 people with a psychiatric disability made use of disability support services in 2015-16, at a rate of about 1 in 250 people.

“There are many contributing factors to the rising incidence of mental health issues. It’s impossible to speculate, really. But the statistics indicate that more people are talking about their mental health and seeking both treatment and support,” Wellways Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Crowther said.

“I also note that many people are seeking support in their community, which is where we do most of our work. We know this to be the case, as we are experiencing greater demand for services.”

Psychiatric disability was the most frequently reported primary disability among people receiving non-residential disability support services, and the second most frequently reported for residential disability support services, the figures show. Read more >


Doctors call for better planning

The Australian Medical Association is calling for a national mental health “architecture”, and proper investment in both prevention and treatment of mental illnesses.

Almost one in two Australians will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime, yet mental health and psychiatric care are grossly underfunded when compared to physical health, AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon said.

“Many Australians will experience a mental illness at some time in their lives, and almost every Australian will experience the effects of mental illness in a family member, friend or work colleague,” Dr Gannon said.

“Navigating the system and finding the right care at the right time can be difficult and frustrating.

“Australia lacks an overarching mental health ‘architecture’. There is no vision of what the mental health system will look like in the future, nor is there any agreed national design or structure that will facilitate prevention and proper care for people with mental illness.

“The AMA is calling for the balance between funding acute care in public hospitals, primary care, and community-managed mental health to be correctly weighted.

“Funding should be on the basis of need, demand, and disease burden – not a competition between sectors and specific conditions. Policies that try to strip resources from one area of mental health to pay for another are disastrous.

“Poor access to acute beds for major illness leads to extended delays in emergency departments, poor access to community care leads to delayed or failed discharges from hospitals, and poor funding of community services makes it harder to access and coordinate prevention, support services, and early intervention.

“Significant investment is urgently needed to reduce the deficits in care, fragmentation, poor coordination, and access to effective care,” Dr Gannon said.

“Community-managed mental health services have not been appropriately structured or funded since the movement towards deinstitutionalisation in the 1970s and 1980s, which shifted much of the care and treatment of people with a mental illness out of institutions and into the community,” he said. Read more >


Funding boost for kids mental health

Funding directed to supporting the mental health of young people has been extended until 2021, Health Minister Greg Hunt has said.

Included in the $100 million provision was money directed at digital mental health services, along with $46 million for an integrated school-based Mental Health in Education initiative.

These positive initiatives will help schools and communities to support the well-being and mental health of our kids and respond rapidly to personal and community challenges, Mr Hunt said.

“Funding of $2.5 million will also provide for an evaluation of the National Support for Child and Youth Mental Health Program – which we are extending until June 2021.” Read more > 


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