Call for national leadership on mental health

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Mental health charity SANE has called for national leadership on mental health reform from all governments and all political parties.

Responding to today’s leak of part of the long awaited review by the National Mental Health Commission into Australia’s mental health services, SANE CEO Jack Heath said: ‘The time for leadership and action to reform the mental health system has arrived.’

‘All levels of government need to get on with the job of creating a mental health system that provides the appropriate supports and services to people when and where they need it.

‘To do this we need determined leadership at a national level, backed by strong support across all political parties - this is one issue where we should be able to work together free of politics,’ said Heath.

Heath called on the Federal Government to release the National Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services in full, as well as its response to the review, as a matter of urgency.

“Later this week, when Federal Minister Sussan Ley meets with her State counterparts, she should lead the charge and call for a concerted national effort to fix the ‘fundamental structural shortcomings’ in the mental health sector, as identified by the Commission.

“We need to put in place a 10-year reform strategy which sets clear targets and indicators to drive systemic change in the mental health system,’ he added.

Heath said SANE supports Professor John Mendoza’s call for a National Mental Health Reform Compact.  

‘The National Compact should also include a clear commitment to increase funding for community-based mental health care but not at the expense of acute services that are currently struggling.  We need to shift the funding mix but only over time,’ he added.

Mr Heath also noted that despite the Federal Health Minister’s announcement of $300 million in mental health funding last week, there remains great uncertainty as to which specific programs will be funded.    

‘No business or organisation can operate effectively if it does not have security around ongoing funding. We need the Federal Government to provide clarity regarding funding in both the immediate and longer term so that, together, we can build a mental health system Australia can be proud of,’ Heath concluded.

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