WA psychiatrists welcome increase to mental health investment

Western Australian psychiatrists have welcomed the $420 million investment in the state’s mental health and call on the Western Australian Government to ensure a strong workforce is at the heart of the system. 

The Chair of the Western Australian Branch of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) Dr Mike Verheggen has said there is a critical shortage of psychiatrists across the state as well as an urgent need to invest in community-based treatment for moderate and severe mental health conditions.

“You cannot have a strong mental health care system without the workforce,” said Dr Verheggen. 

“This $420 million increase in mental health spending is a very welcome step in the right direction. Our focus is on ensuring Western Australians are able to get the right care, at the right time. 

“This will require a strategic focus on building the state’s mental health workforce, including training and retaining psychiatrists to meet the state’s current and future needs. 

The RANZCP WA Branch has also highlighted the need for investment in community mental health services, as well as expanding mobile crisis programs to 24 hours, 7 days a week.

“This is one of the most significant investments in mental health per capita in our state’s history. But it comes off the back of chronic underfunding over the last decade for services aimed at moderate and severe, complex and chronic mental health conditions,” said Dr Verheggen.

“A critical focus moving forward will be more investment in community-based treatment services as well as early intervention programs in a community setting.

“Community mental health services are less disruptive to individuals and families, reduce pressure on our emergency departments and are more cost effective in the long term.”

“Mobile crisis programs provide rapid, flexible and urgently needed care to people experiencing a mental health crisis. They are cost effective, responsive, and ease pressure on emergency departments and reduce hospitalisations.

“We look forward to working closely with the Western Australian Government to improve mental health care across the state,” said Dr Mike Verheggen.   

ENQUIRIES: For more information, or to arrange an interview call +61 423 444 907, or email media@ranzcp.org.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists is a membership organisation that prepares medical specialists in the field of psychiatry, supports and enhances clinical practice, advocates for people affected by mental illness and advises governments and other groups on mental health care. For information about our work, our members or our history, visit www.ranzcp.org.

In Australia: If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or www.lifeline.org.au or the Suicide Callback Service on 1300 659 467 or www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au.

In New Zealand: If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline NZ on 0800 543 354 or www.lifeline.org.nz or the Suicide Crisis Helpline on 0508 828 865 or www.lifeline.org.nz/suicide-prevention.


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