The Australian Greens have a vision for high quality mental health services that are easily available to all Australians. Everyone should have access to the treatment, care, support and recovery that they need. By investing $1.4 billion in mental health over the next four years, we can better support the mental health and wellbeing of all Australians.
The Greens believe in an Australia where wellbeing is prioritised, quality mental health services are easily available and everyone has access to the treatment and support that they need, when they need it.
Unfortunately there has been chronic under-investment in the mental health sector by successive governments, which has resulted in the system failing to meet the needs of thousands of Australians. As a result, mental health accounts for 13% of Australia’s disease burden, yet receives less than 9% of all federal health funding. Over 80% of this mental health funding is allocated to supporting those at the high needs end of the spectrum.
More needs to be done to ensure that mental health prevention and primary care is accessible for the wider population. Consumers and carers need to be supported to play a major role in policy and program development. We need to support programs that contribute to wellbeing, to early identification of the signs of mental illness, to stepped intervention and treatment, to peer support and to recovery that meets the needs of people who have low to medium levels of mental illness. This way we can provide support and care before their health worsens and becomes critical.
The Greens mental health package provides funding for the Primary Health Networks’ flexible mental health funding pool, the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program, headspace and Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centres, and rural mental health. The Greens have also committed to establishing an anti-stigma strategy, a national suicide prevention campaign and an overarching supervisory body for mental illness research in Australia.
The Greens’ investment in the mental health of millions of Australians would not only meet the immediate needs of people with mental ill-health, but would reduce their need for high intensity services into the future.
Investing in primary mental health care
The major recommendation from the National Mental Health Commission Review in 2014 was to increase spending on primary mental health care by $1 billion over the next four years. The Greens’ $1 billion primary care mental health commitment would include an additional $400 million for the Primary Health Networks’ (PHNs) flexible mental health funding pool, $280 million extra funding for the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program, maintaining funding for headspace and Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centres, and $280 million for rural mental health.
Mental health stigma and suicide prevention
The Greens would fund a $40 million anti-stigma strategy to challenge the ongoing misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the lived experience of mental illness. This funding represents $10 million a year to developing, implementing and evaluating a series of targeted anti-stigma campaigns, particularly in relation to at risk groups, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, LGBTI and CALD communities.
Currently seven Australians die every day from suicide with advocates describing this situation as a national emergency.We would also commit $38.3 million for a National Suicide Campaign to engage and educate communities about the complexity of suicide.
Supporting rural and regional Australia
$280 million for rural mental health, including the development and implementation of a workforce plan and funding for step-up, step-down support services and accommodation.
This includes a $140 million in funding to generate then implement a plan to attract and encourage more mental health workers in regional Australia and improve the skills of the workforce already there.