The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) has welcomed the mental health measures handed down in the Western Australian State Budget 2021-22 as a good start and a promising sign, however emphasised more will be needed to fix the system.
‘Such a large investment funding is a strong indication that the government is taking WA’s mental health issues seriously, and that is a really encouraging sign’, said Professor Galbally, Chair of the RANZCP WA Branch.
‘We are pleased to see an investment of $31.7 million in expanding WA's eating disorder treatment services to include a centralised tertiary-level specialist service consisting of State-wide day program and early intervention, as well as community and clinical "spokes".'
The next step, said Professor Galbally, will be building up greater capacity in the system and taking steps to address some of the key contributors to people needing hospital care.
‘Even with these announcements we are still facing a major shortage of the specialist doctors such as psychiatrists, nurses and allied health professionals including clinical psychologists required to provide proper care for people’, added Professor Galbally.
‘While we welcome the health workforce attraction and retention strategy, there is no getting away from the fact that WA has a severe shortage of psychiatrists, particularly in rural areas.
‘Until issues like this are fixed, we will continue to see bed blockages, emergency department overcrowding, ambulance ramping and staff burnout. We also need more than a short-term increase over the next two years.
‘Our system is out of balance; the proportion of funds spent on prevention and community based mental health services needs to increase, to keep people well in the community and divert pressure from emergency departments.
‘We welcome the investment in pilot Active Recovery Teams and call on Government to further increase crisis assessment and management services.
‘We also call for increasing access to specialist mental health treatment within community services as well as community residential services providing longer term treatment and psychosocial support for recovery and rehabilitation, and greater investment in prevention services, not just over the next couple of years, but well into the future.
‘We look forward to working with the Government to help shape a comprehensive vision to rebuild our mental health system into one the people of Western Australia can depend on to support them as they deserve.’
The RANZCP is encouraged by some real increases in funding for clinical mental health services in the community.
‘It’s good to see the commitment of $7.9 million for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services to reduce waitlist and increase staff, and an expansion of adult community treatment services to support people with mental health issues after hours and on weekends.
‘We also welcome the investment of $35.3 million in Youth Community Assessment and Treatment Teams, and the new Child, Adolescent and Youth Forensic Outreach Service.
‘These announcements are the beginning of a long journey to mending the mental health system and an indication that government is willing to listen and act.’
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For all other expert mental health information visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.