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World Mental Health Day: Government’s must look beyond budget and election cycles and invest in longterm strategy

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 13 Oct 2020

Mental illness is one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century and access to treatments should be universal. People in our community should be able to get easy access to treatments in the same way they would for a broken leg or the flu,” Australian Greens spokesperson on mental health Senator Rachel Siewert said.

Mental ill health is the leading cause of sickness and long term work incapacity in the developed world. 

There has been 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.

Three quarters of mental health issues begin before the age of 25, it is critical that we support the mental health of children and young people.

Services are too often fragmented and difficult to access and so people fall through the cracks.

We need investment in community-based assertive outreach programs, and more dedicated funding for First Nations peoples.

We need timely and on going evaluation of programs to make sure we are providing quality services that meet community needs. Funding needs to be properly targeted and evaluated so there is transparency around funding and whether outcomes are being achieved.

We are calling on the Government to urgently release the final Productivity Commission report into Mental Health and the final report of the MBS Taskforce’s recommendations regarding Medicare-funded mental health care items.

It is important that any recommendations, for long-term, systemic change, and the Government’s response to these recommendations, be made public and reforms implemented. It is unclear why the Minister is not releasing these reports. 

This pandemic will have long-lasting effects on the mental health of many people in our community. 

The impact of job losses, economic hardship, lock downs, daily anxiety, reduced social connectedness and long periods of uncertainty have only added to the challenges that our mental health system was experiencing before the pandemic.

And let’s be real. Living in poverty is a contributor to poor mental health and anxiety.

The Government needs to realise that social services policies that push people into poverty cause stress and anxiety and part of looking after mental health in this country is ensuring that we keep people out of poverty and look after their wellbeing.
 
The global theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day is “Mental Health for All. Great Investment – Greater Access. Everyone, everywhere.” 

 
Media Contact
Lucy Cowcher-Guthrie; 0418 401 180

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