The federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, today announced a financial package of more than $100 million to support strategies targeting young mental health issues, stating:
“Programs for beyondblue, Headspace, Origin and Kids Helpline and Reach Out and others are all about ensuring that we provide assistance before the problems emerge and when they do emerge there are avenues for treatment and avenues for people to seek emergency help.”
Some of funds will be distributed as follows:
- $46 million has been allocated to beyondblue’s integrated school-based Mental Health in Education initiative (a new national program to encourage good mental health and wellbeing practices operating from early learning centres to the end of secondary school where the aim is to give parents and educators the tools to recognise the early warning signs of mental health challenges and deal with them through access to a range of face-to-face or online mental health programs)
- $13.5m has been allocated to the Orygen National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health which Orygen Executive Director, Professor Patrick McGorry, indicated would to maintain youth mental health services including Headspace centres throughout Australia*
- Kids Helpline, ReachOut, Suicide Callback Service and QLife will share an additional $2 million over two years for telephone, webchat and online mental health help.
* While the Guardian quoted Professor McGorry as saying that the funding would not provide for any new centres, ABC News stated that “more Headspace centres will be set up across Australia, with a funding boost of $30 million”
as those affected by severe and complex youth mental health issues know all too well:
…while a lot of young people get access to help through Headspace, one third of those who go to headspace are too complex for headspace alone, and they become trapped in a bottleneck in the system where they can’t get the specialised care they need.”
Patrick McGorry, 8 January 2018
So Professor McGorry made very clear that this financial injection must be just the beginning. “We need to finish the job of national coverage,. … What’s really missing is expert, team-based care that organisations like Orygen provide, and which is in very short supply.
The Orygen founder emphasised the importance of further funding to meet complex care needs, listing some specifics that needed addressing as:
- the lifting of 10-session cap on allied mental health sessions, and
- a significant allocation of funds for mobile and home-based interventions.
These are just SOME of the things that all mental health peak bodies and advocates MUST continue to lobby for.
Those at the severe and complex end of the spectrum are too often overlooked – perhaps because they are smaller in number than those for whom Headspace and other early intervention programs can achieve positive outcomes. But the more severe and complex, the more serious the ongoing impact on young people, their family, friends and wider community. The suffering that many endure is impossible for most people to imagine. Severe and complex youth mental health issues are 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week. So professional management of the multiple services that are inevitably required will be a key aspect of delivery.
Available and accessible integrated, multidisciplinary programs that encompass treatment, education/training and rehabilitation are vital. And until those are adequately funded on an ongoing basis, the government still has much to do to make mental health the priority that it must be.