Psychiatrists call for mental health system review

27 May 2021

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) has called upon the Queensland Government for an urgent review of the state’s mental health system.

RANZCP Queensland Branch Chair, Professor Brett Emmerson AM, has warned that Queensland’s mental health system is on the brink of collapse, noting that the state has the lowest per capita mental health spending of any state or territory in Australia.

‘Despite the $46.5 million funding boost to support Queenslanders’ mental health, our mental health system is struggling to cope with spiralling demand’, explained Professor Emmerson AM.

‘Presentations to emergency departments have skyrocketed, highlighting a mental health system which is overwhelmed, publicly and privately.

‘Our psychiatrists are reporting tremendous burnout on the job, they are scared of making medical errors and report turning patients away or transferring them elsewhere.

‘The problem is that patients have nowhere else to go. Many private psychiatrists have closed their books. Community mental health services cannot cope.

With the rise in mental ill health caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the RANZCP Queensland Branch strongly believes that now is the time for a clear and comprehensive strategy of reform for the Queensland mental health system.

‘Given the recent Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health, the Victorian Government Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System and the New Zealand Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction, we have sufficient evidence and reforms that would be highly applicable to the situation in Queensland’, added Professor Emmerson AM.

‘We do not feel that we need a costly Royal Commission in Queensland. There are enough learnings from the recent inquiries and commissions to tell us what we need to know.

‘What we are asking of the Queensland Government is to urgently engage the Queensland Mental Health Commission, which has the standing powers of a Royal Commission, to carry out a review of the Queensland mental health system.

‘We believe the time for action is now.

‘Urgent reform is needed in Queensland to ensure that every person has access to the care they need.’

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

ENQUIRIES: For more information, or to arrange an interview call Sarah Carr on +61 (0)3 9640 0646 or +61 437 315 911, or email