National investment in data essential for targeted action on suicide

15 May 2020
 
 
 

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) welcomes today’s National Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan as well as the Commonwealth’s investment of $48.1 million in additional support to assist with its implementation.

‘There are substantial unmet mental health needs in the community as well as new short and longer term challenges arising as this pandemic and its broader consequences enter a new phase, so we commend the National Cabinet’s commitment to mental health,’ said RANZCP President, Associate Professor John Allan. 

‘We support the idea of a single unified national pandemic mental health plan which will bring together efforts across jurisdictions while also providing for the states and territories to implement flexible, responsive and outcome-focused service delivery and support solutions relevant to local needs.

‘In particular, we welcome the new $7.3 million investment in enhancing real-time data to assist with the  immediate monitoring and modelling of the mental health impact of COVID-19.

‘This will allow government, decision makers and mental health service providers to identify gaps and points where mental health services are urgently needed, and can be quickly scaled up and effectively deployed.

‘Acquiring, monitoring and sharing reliable real-time data for family violence, for example, is crucial to help inform and shape targeted future responses provided by mental health professionals as well crisis and support services, and the speed at which they can do so.

‘If well implemented, this action should mean people experiencing family violence will be better able to access the right services whenever and wherever they need to.    

‘This is also an uncertain time with respect to suicide, but we know that decisive, data- and research-informed, and targeted government action in the right places does make a difference.

‘Suicide prevention requires a comprehensive approach that spans systems, organisations and environments, combining intervention and support, and up-to date data and modelling is essential for this to happen.

‘It is important that this investment in data and health intelligence also feed into a continuity plan for future pandemics, natural and climate-related disasters, and other health emergencies.

The RANZCP was pleased to hear the Prime Minister mention the successful expansion of telehealth and its role in bringing the number of consultations for mental health back towards pre-pandemic levels.

‘Mental health professionals want to be able to keep and build on the flexibility of these successful new models of care – so as to always be able to provide the right care at the right time whether it be face-to-face or through other digital health and telehealth services.  

‘In turning our heads to the implementation of this plan, we also need to make sure that we still look for critical interventions that work and are backed by evidence – not just what's easy to put into practice.

‘There are difficulties now, for example, in providing care and support for people with complex and severe mental health conditions, we need to resolve how will this happen as part of a comprehensive national plan.’

The RANZCP looks forward to working with respective governments on the implementation of the plan to meet the specific needs of each jurisdiction and their wider communities.

ENQUIRIES: For more information, or to arrange an interview call Sarah Carr on +61 437 315 911, or email media@ranzcp.org.

For all other expert mental health information, visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.