The Turnbull government is set to to scrap funding for the Early Psychosis Youth Services (EPYS) program which deploys specialist teams providing early intervention and follow-up care (including helping patients to secure accommodation, return to school or find work and supporting families to improve the young person’s chances of recovery) for young people aged between 12 and 25 who are at high risk of, or have experienced, a psychotic episode for the first time.
The headspace National Office received formal notification on April 19 that the federal government has decided to discontinue the implementation of the early psychosis model, based on the National Mental Health Commission’s review of mental health services. And although Federal Health Minister, Sussan Ley says that the funding from the EPYS services will be redistributed to the new Primary Health Networks (PHNs) as part of a flexible funding allocation, Professor Patrick McGorry, says
“they want to dilute the funding. …The logic the government is using is that there are other diagnoses than psychosis which need to be covered but more money should be allocated for that rather than cutting the funding already. They’ve told PHNs to support headspace centres but they’re pulling the rug out of the early psychosis model. … If you had six to eight breast cancer centres set up around Australia but then someone pointed out ovarian cancer and prostate cancer weren’t getting as much attention, you wouldn’t dismantle the breast cancer centres to give to the others.”
The Fairfax media reported on this on April 29th and the issue received more coverage when SBS presented the South Australian perspective triggered by a change.org petition that was initiated by the South Australian Youth Mental Health Action Group – a group set up by a Donna Symonds, a psychology student who saw the need to respond.
For Queenslanders, this might seem like an awful case of déjà vu – a lifesaving youth mental health service being terminated with promises of ongoing comprehensive care? Can we allow another government to ignore the warnings, to ignore the lessons that SHOULD HAVE been learnt by the tragedies of the Barrett Centre Closure? If you feel that services like the EPYS should be expanded instead of defunded, you can take action. You can sign the petition or write to the Federal Government (contact details on our Get Involved page) … or both. If we need to keep speaking out until the government listens, we have to keep trying. For the sake of the health of young people throughout Australia.