9 January 2018

Welcome boost to mental-health funding

Mental Health TheHill

The federal government has increased funding for mental-health programs for young Australians in a broadly welcomed recognition of the increasing burden of the disease on health services.

In a poll of more than 1300 RACGP members conducted last year, mental health was cited as a top-three issue by 68% of female GPs and 53% of male practitioners and flagged as the health issue causing the most concern for the future, followed by obesity and diabetes.

Health Minister Greg Hunt on Monday announced the commitment of an additional $110 million to be provided across a range of services, with a focus on school-based mental-health programs and a range of new Headspace centres.

More than $45 million will go to beyondblue for its Mental Health in Education initiative and $30 million will be used to set up additional Headspace centres, which provide early interventions for people aged 12 to 25.

Mr Hunt said up to 75% of mental illness first presented before the age of 25 and encouraging prevention in schools would help provide assistance before deeper problems emerge.

Online and phone support services, including Kids Helpline and ReachOut will receive an extra $1.8 million, while $13.5 million has been allocated to the Orygen National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health.

The executive director of Orygen, psychiatrist Professor Patrick McGorry, said the decision showed Mr Hunt had been listening to the sector. 

“We are very grateful for that support because we need to keep this early intervention going,” Professor McGorry told media.  

“But it should be seen as funding that is setting the scene for the next wave of reform, and I very much hope Mr Hunt will support that next phase,” he said.