The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) has welcomed several announcements, aimed at strengthening and supporting the mental health sector, with millions of funding toward psychiatry.
RANZCP President, Associate Professor John Allan, said the $2.3 billion announced for mental health in the Federal Budget 2021-22 will help to bolster the mental health system.
‘There are a number of things in last night’s Budget to be happy about’, said Associate Professor John Allan.
‘We’ve had telehealth extended until the end of 2021, Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation has been added as a treatment available under the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS), and a big spend on suicide prevention and a goal to achieve universal aftercare services following a suicide attempt.
‘This unprecedented spending on mental health is a great first step towards fixing our broken system, but we can’t stop there, we need continual support from the government to repair and rebuild.'
Associate Professor Allan added that these announcements needed to be underpinned by a strong commitment from the Federal Government to work closely with state governments, to connect with existing services and a focus on providing the workforce required to support the increase in service provision.
‘Whilst all these announcements are fantastic for mental health, there is still the issue of workforce shortages we are experiencing in psychiatry, as well as the broader mental health sector', said Associate Professor Allan.
‘As part of the $2.3 billion, there is $11 million toward boosting the psychiatrist workforce by creating 30 additional training posts by 2023, including regional and remote pathways.
‘In addition to this, $0.9 million to develop a nationally recognised Diploma in Psychiatry for medical practitioners, including GPs and emergency medicine specialists, will be key to supporting the broader mental health workforce.
‘That for us is a great support in promoting psychiatry as a career pathway, however it doesn’t sufficiently address the immediate workforce shortages we’re seeing.
‘Our mental health system and emergency departments are already struggling to meet the level of demand that they’re experiencing, so it is of the utmost importance that the workforce required to support these new services is sufficient and sustainable.
‘We’re experiencing severe shortages in a number of areas of psychiatry, specifically child and adolescent psychiatrists, leaving parents and children facing significant wait times of over 6 months.
‘Similarly, our regional, rural and remote communities are struggling to provide and receive the mental health and psychiatric services.
‘Change is desperately needed to address the inequalities in mental health status and service provision that exist between rural and metropolitan areas, to redress severe psychiatry workforce shortages in rural areas and raise the profile of rural training opportunities.
‘We need immediate and sustainable solutions to the current workforce issues faced by psychiatrists to support them in the meantime.’
For all other expert mental health information visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.
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