The NSW Government needs to follow the lead of Victoria in committing to sweeping reform of the mental health system with new sustainable investment to deliver better health outcomes for people living with mental ill health.
‘As a matter of urgency, the NSW Government must also commit to increasing the funding and levels of service to deal with the current and future mental health needs of people across NSW,’ said the Chair of the New South Wales Branch of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, Dr Angelo Virgona.
In response to the interim report from the Victorian Royal Commission into Mental Health released yesterday, the Victorian Government has affirmed its commitment to reversing the decades-long underinvestment in care and fundamentally redesigning and rebuilding their mental health system.
Amongst the nine interim recommendations, all of which the Victorian Government will accept and implement, is a recommendation to implement a new approach to mental health investment comprising a new revenue mechanism and a dedicated capital investment fund for the mental health system.
‘In the wake of the recently tabled draft report of the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into mental health at a national level, and now Victoria taking the lead on their own royal commission, now is the time to address the shortfalls in NSW mental health funding to reform the system and make it work better,’ said Dr Virgona.
‘The crisis is no less in NSW, with emergency departments (ED) bursting with mental health presentations and millions spent on security staff to monitor mental health patients in ED because there is nowhere for these patients to go.
‘This money should be spent on mental health beds and other clinical services to support them–patients are discharged too early from hospital and there are scant community resources to follow them up, with an already demoralised workforce facing severe shortages.
‘Any capital works in the pipeline, which have been long overdue, are designed to meet the demand we were encountering 10 years ago, and people want dependable mental health services.
Mission Australia’s recent survey of young Australians has also revealed, yet again, that mental health is the main concern for this demographic.
The RANZCP New South Wales Branch along with various stakeholders including the College and Mental Health Coordinating Council, have provided submissions to the NSW Government about the need for urgent investment in critical hospital and community-based services.
‘These have been to no avail, all we seem to hear is the government preoccupation with roads, tunnels, tramways and stadiums,’ said Dr Virgona.
‘It’s time, now more than ever, for the NSW Government to get out in front and take the lead on this issue, and we look forward to continuing our work with the government and other stakeholders to improve the state’s mental health system for our communities.’