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RANZCP President welcomes plans for mental health and suicide prevention

16 August 2019
 
 
 

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) welcomes the Health Minister Greg Hunt’s announcement that mental health and suicide prevention are at the top of the government’s priorities.

The President of the RANZCP, Associate Professor John Allan said: ‘We look forward to further discussions with the government and are ready to provide expertise and support them in their commitment to prioritising mental health and wellbeing, including reducing the rates of suicide for our young people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.’

‘We encourage the government to move without delay in consultation with mental health stakeholders to develop these ideas in a comprehensive and meaningful way so that they can be put into action,’ said Associate Professor Allan.

‘The work to complete a comprehensive and robust National Mental Health Workforce Strategy will be fundamental to the success of the government’s ability to deliver on these plans.

‘Currently, the number of psychiatrists available is not keeping up with community needs, which are increasing due to population growth, ageing and clinical trends.

‘To compound this, there is a maldistribution of psychiatrists with higher numbers in the major cities and an under-representation in many regional, rural and remote areas,’ said Associate Professor Allan.

The RANZCP commends the focus on preventing the mental ill health for children and improving treatment and supports for the 0-12 age group.

However Associate Professor Allan emphasised the importance of young people around Australia being able to access specialist child and adolescent psychiatrists.

‘We have about 3500 psychiatrists in Australia, and of those about 400 are practicing child and adolescent psychiatrists’

‘There is a shortage of specialist child and adolescent psychiatrists able to deliver on the government’s plan,’ said Associate Professor Allan.

The RANZCP has long been advocating for a more equitable mental health spend to address the burden of disease, and looks forward to working with the government to deliver a mental health system that is both fit-for-purpose and responsive to the needs of the individual, their families and carers.

In other mental health announcements, the Government committed to:

  • deliver a $90 million Intergenerational Health and Mental Health study consisting of four surveys overseen by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
  • the continued roll-out of walk-in mental health centres
  • a National Children’s Mental Health Strategy to ensure early diagnosis and treatment of neuropsychiatric conditions
  • a new National Psychosocial Support Program for the day-to-day support of people with severe mental illness
  • $55 million investment in national suicide prevention trials

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 media@ranzcp.org.