MIL-OSI Australia: $111.8 million to support community mental health

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Source: New South Wales Premiere

Over 2 in 5 Australians aged 16 to 85 are estimated to have experienced a mental disorder at some point in their life.

People living with mental illness, particularly those with severe mental illness, are more at risk of experiencing a range of adverse health outcomes and have a lower average life expectancy than the general population, with men’s life expectancies being reduced by 15.9 years, and for women by 12 years.

The initiatives announced today are designed to enhance and support the wellbeing of the people of NSW.

$30.4 MILLION FOR COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH TEAMS

The NSW Government will invest $30.4 million over 4 years to expand Community Mental Health Teams across targeted areas, including in regional NSW.

These teams work within Local Health Districts and specialty health networks caring for those who experience persistent and complex mental illness.

This funding will provide a workforce boost of approximately 35 additional mental health positions, which will support community outreach, allow for extended hours of service and enable more comprehensive case management.

It will also strengthen coordination of care, enhance access to specialist psychological services and improve family involvement in care.

The 35 additional mental health professionals will include five out-reach mental health housing liaison positions who will work with the Department of Communities and Justice to link people at risk of, or experiencing homelessness, who are accessing mental health services to housing and help them sustain tenancies.

The St Vincent’s Health network will also be allocated 5 workers to establish a new assertive adult community mental health team.

This will allow them to increase their support for those facing complex needs, including those experiencing homelessness, substance misuse issues and those at risk of engagement with the criminal justice system.

$40 MILLION FOR THE PATHWAYS TO COMMUNITY LIVING INITATIVE

The NSW Government will invest $40 million over four years for the Pathways to Community Living Initiative, which is focused on supporting alternatives to long term hospital care for people with complex needs, who have persistent mental illness.

This funding will fund a complex care clinical workforce of over 25 professionals who will support patients through this program.

$39 MILLION FOR A MENTAL HEALTH SINGLE FRONT DOOR

The NSW Government will invest an additional $39 million over four years to strengthen mental health services by establishing a new Mental Health Single Front Door.

The NSW Single Front Door, delivered through Healthdirect currently provides virtual GP, virtual KIDS and Urgent Care Services.

This funding will allow this service to be expanded to allow those in need of mental health support to call Healthdirect and receive assessment advice from specialist clinicians and be connected with the appropriate services.

This initiative has been developed in consultation with carers, mental health professionals, a range of service providers, and those who may use the service.

Last year, 124,467 Emergency Department visits were made for mental health. It is estimated that approximately 25 per cent of these would have been suitable to receive support through other primary care settings.

By providing callers with information on alternative care pathways, the establishment of a Mental Health Single Front Door will reduce avoidable Emergency Department presentations and improve patient flow across hospitals.

$2.4 MILLION FOR THE MENTAL HEALTH REVIEW TRIBUNAL

The Mental Health Review Tribunal will receive an additional $2.4 million over four years to enable a long overdue digitisation of records, an upgrade to IT systems and an investment in a new case management system.

These system improvements will support the Tribunal to meet the continued growth in patients and hearings.

Since being elected the Minns Labor Government has been working on a comprehensive plan to strengthen our mental health system.

We know it faces significant challenges, but we are making the responsible decisions to ensure the people of NSW have the care and services they deserve and need.

We want a fully staffed mental health care system that is responsive and well resourced.

Chris Minns, Premier of NSW said:

“We know that people across the state are doing it tough right now, and for many in our community, mental health services are a vital lifeline when they need it most.

“Mental health is an important and ongoing conversation, and this funding is an important step in directly intervening to provide care for the people of NSW.”

Daniel Mookhey, NSW Treasurer said:

“This community mental health package is a must-have for people who need more help across NSW.

“We can afford to do this because we are paying less in interest. Lower debt means we can reinvest these savings into helping provide care for thousands of people in need.”

Minister for Health, Ryan Park said:

“We have seen first hand the success of the NSW Single Front Door model delivered via Healthdirect. The development of a Mental Health Single Front Door is a common sense decision to ensure expert mental health support is available to those who need it.”

Minister for Mental Health, Rose Jackson said:

“Our government is committed to taking meaningful action to support the mental health of the people of NSW – regardless of the complexity or duration of a patient’s experience, this package has been designed to offer help when it is needed.

“This is an important step in the NSW Government’s approach to mental health support, but it is not the final one.

“I am committed to continuing to work with experts in the field on long term interventions.”

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