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Labor mental health policy: a step forward but more to be done

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SANE Australia welcomes the ALP’s policy statement on mental health and suicide prevention.

In particular, SANE Australia strongly supports Labor’s commitment to:

  • National Leadership on mental health and the implementation of a Fifth National Mental Health Plan - This continues the cross-party political approach to mental health of the past twenty years.
  • Embrace the goal to halve suicide over a ten year period - SANE supports an intensive effort in pilot regions across Australia but suicide prevention activities need to continue in all other regions at the same time.
  • Ensure services and supports continue for those living with mental illness who do not fall within the NDIS - The National Mental Health Commission estimates there are 625,000 Australians living with severe mental illness who will not be covered by the NDIS – funding of NDIS must not come at the expense of others living with severe mental illness.
  • Strengthen supports for the carers of people living with a mental illness - Carers provide critical assistance that reduces the need for government services but do not get appropriate recognition and support.

SANE Australia notes this is an interim policy statement by Labor.

Prior to the next Federal election, SANE Australia would like to see all parties make commitments in the following key areas:

  • A five-year national collaborative effort to reduce stigma and discrimination, especially for those living with severe mental illness - Reducing stigma fosters early help-seeking which lessens the substantial human and financial costs that come from late interventions – late helps is always expensive help.
  • Increased investment in innovative technologies, especially those that facilitate peer-to-peer support networks - Online peer support groups can complement professional supports and free up professionals to deal with those most in need of their time and expertise. They can also provide invaluable support to people living in rural and regional areas who currently access mental health services at only a third of the rate of their city counterparts.
  • Adoption of long term national targets to reduce the rates and severity of illness while also improving wellbeing across the board - Appropriate investments in mental health will reduce both human and financial costs.

SANE Australia looks forward to the Federal Government’s forthcoming response to the National Mental Health Commission’s Review and encourages all political parties to continue to adopt a truly national and bipartisan approach to mental health reform.

Last updated: 8 December 2015
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