With the State Budget 2020-21 being handed down late last week, the Tasmania Branch of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) has welcomed the state government’s investment in the Tasmanian mental health system.
Chair of the RANZCP Tasmanian Branch, Dr Ben Elijah, said this years’ Budget was welcome news for psychiatrists and mental health practitioners.
‘It’s no secret that our mental health system in Tasmania has been overstretched and under-resourced for some time,’ said Dr Elijah.
‘The Tasmanian mental health system has experienced a year of reflection and reform, a period we know has been very challenging for the mental healthcare workforce.
‘This year’s budget goes to show that the government is serious about investing in a system which is essential in supporting the health and wellbeing of so many people in our community, including our most vulnerable.
‘The government’s focus on mental health is more important, now more than ever, as we begin to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and are expecting to see a surge in service demand.’
Dr Elijah added that the announcement of the Productivity Commission, Mental Health, Inquiry Report was a welcomed addition to the announcements included in Tasmania’s Budget.
‘The recommendations made in the Productivity Commission’s report will complement those already announced by the Premier in last week’s budget.
‘The report clearly identifies the seriousness of the mental health workforce shortage issues we are experiencing, and we encourage the government to assess their plans against the recommendations of the Productivity Commission.
‘Tasmania has struggled to recruit and retain the mental health workforce required to address the needs of our community.
‘This is especially felt in our regional and rural areas where subspecialties, particularly in child and adolescent and forensic psychiatry are so desperately needed.’
The RANZCP Tasmanian Branch also strongly urges the government to improve referral pathways and community mental health services in-line with the recommendations of the Productivity Commission and the Tasmanian Department of Health Reform initiative.
‘The announcement to support programs aimed at addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is important, but we need a commitment to recurrent funding for both community mental health and clinical services.
‘It is essential we provide appropriate prevention and early intervention services to people who may otherwise become acutely unwell and end up in our Emergency Departments.’
For all other expert mental health information, visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.
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