The Greens today announced a comprehensive mental health plan for Australia and are calling on the Commonwealth to embrace it as a fundamental part of the Prime Minister's proposed health reform program.
"The Greens have a fully developed, integrated plan for mental health which I urge Mr Rudd to consider if he is serious about building a reformed and effective health system", said Greens health spokesperson, Senator Rachel Siewert.
"It is clear the current model of mental health care isn't working. A range of different approaches are needed to keep people well and out of hospital longer by successfully managing their illness at home," Senator Siewert said.
"Mental health is a glaring omission from the PM's health package and this is his chance to get it right by including our sensible, considered plan.
Greens plan includes:
• $100 million for funding of community prevention and recovery centres
• $145 million for early intervention programs
• $100 million incentive payments to provide services for the most vulnerable in our community.
"Under our proposal existing Medicare mental health schedule fees would be supplemented by incentive payments for GPs; consulting psychiatrists and psychologists working together to provide additional access and services for the most needy, vulnerable and long-term clientele working within community and NGO sector.
"Every hospital-based mental health service should be linked with a multi-disciplinary community-based sub-acute service that supports ‘stepped' prevention and recovery care. $100 million would pay for 60 community-based services with 8-12 beds per centre.
"We need a national network of one-stop shop community mental health centres accessible by public transport and centrally location, 24 hour on-duty and on-call mobile crisis teams working as part of primary health care organisations. There needs to be additional training for GPs and nurses to triage mental health appropriately, and there should be a mental health professional on 24hr call within every emergency department.
"We have already called on the government to fund early intervention mental health programs including: Communities of Youth services, early psychosis prevention and intervention services, Lifeline suicide hospital discharge and treatment plan and a new Lifeline freecall number," Senator Siewert said.
Media Contact: Fernando de Freitas 0417 174 302
 Senate Select Committee on Mental Health http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/mentalhealth_ctte/
 Institute of Health Economics (Alberta) and Alberta Mental Health Board, Mental Health Economics Statistics In Your Pocket, 2007, p.49.