The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) calls on the Australian Government to act on key recommendations of the Productivity Commissions Draft Report without delay.
‘We acknowledge this report is part of a longer-term, once-in-a generation opportunity to undertake wide-ranging reform of the mental health sector, but we also know there are things we can do right now,’ said RANZCP President, Associate Professor John Allan.
‘Many of the issues, weaknesses and gaps in the mental health system and service delivery outlined in the report have been known to us for a long time.
‘The report correctly focuses on delivering mental health care specific to the nature and severity of the individual’s mental ill-health and flexible to their changing clinical needs.
‘We have long advocated for personalised and culturally-informed care that respects religious and spiritual beliefs and encourages a sense of environmental familiarity and cultural safety, especially for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
‘Importantly, our mental health and wellbeing is informed by other non-medical behavioural, cultural, social and economic factors, such as traumatic events, complex family situations and the physical settings in which we live.’
Associate Professor Allan emphasised that the difficulties people in rural, regional and remote communities experience in finding and accessing suitable mental health treatment and support is well-established.
‘The RANZCP has consistently called for improved and expanded treatment and recovery services for alcohol and other drugs in rural and regional areas.
‘We know mental health services are facing increasing presentations of methamphetamine (‘ice’) affected patients and that we do not have enough addiction specialists – let alone in the areas we need them – to manage the underlying problems of ice addiction and its related harms.’
The distances, resource shortages and the nature of mental health challenges in rural and remote areas can create additional challenges for service delivery.
‘It is pleasing to see the report’s focus on an expansion of clinician-supported online mental health treatments, but we need to ensure this includes appropriate funding and support to improve access to telepsychiatry as well,’ said Associate Professor Allan.
‘The evidence shows that telepsychiatry can be as effective as face-to-face consultations in achieving improved health outcomes, and this can have real practical applications – and potentially immediate impacts – in rural and remote areas.
For more information, see the RANZCP’s submission to the Productivity Commission
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