Report on MENTAL HEALTH by Productivity Commission: a clear directive the Australian government can’t afford to ignore

Yesterday, the Australian government released their Productivity Commission’s Inquiry Report into mental health. And, whether the focus is on the health and welfare of the community OR the economy, it has been spelled out in simple terms:

THERE MUST BE MAJOR REFORM ACROSS AUSTRALIA TO DEAL WITH THE MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS

Sadly this crisis existed prior to the global pandemic so the urgency now is even greater.

Some of the actions cited as high priorities include:

  • development and implementation of a new assessment tool to ensure a robust and person-centred approach to assessment and referrals
  • an immediate trial and evaluation of psychology therapy – expanding the number of MBS-rebated treatments to 20 per 12-month period (instead of 10 per calendar year) as well as delaying the need for re-referrals and the use of feedback-informed practice
  • the immediate improvement of emergency mental health service experiences i.e. to ensure that hospitals and crisis response services support a person’s recovery in a safe environment that meets their needs
  • that State and Territory Governments should immediately act to provide child and adolescent mental health beds that are separate to adult mental health wards and if it is not possible to provide these beds in public hospitals, then there must be the capacity to offer alternative services such as hospital-in-the-home, day programs or options where private providers have been contracted to provide services
  • etc.

The report is extensive and even its summary document on Actions and Findings is 74 pages. So there should be no doubt as to what is needed, why and how to begin implementation the vital reforms.

The Productivity Commission makes clear that the cost to all Australians of ignoring what is required  is overwhelming.

The economic benefits of the recommended reforms to Australia’s mental health system were estimated to be up to $1.3 billion per year as a result of the increased economic participation of people with mental ill-health. About 85% of these economic benefits ($1.1 billion) could be achieved from the identified priority reforms alone.

adding that …

… the main benefits of this Inquiry’s recommended reforms would be a substantial increase in the quality of life for a large number of Australians. These gains were estimated to be the equivalent of up to $18 billion per year (an improvement of 84,000 quality-adjusted life years), were the full list of recommended reforms implemented. Ultimately though, the benefits of reform extend to all Australians: those who are currently receiving or require treatment and support for their mental health; their carers, families and colleagues; and those who are well now but may one day seek help for themselves or someone they know. You do not have to be unwell now to benefit from improvements to Australia’s mental health system.

(Australian Government Productivity Commission Inquiry Report on Mental Health, No. 95, 30 June 2020. Volume 1, p14)

So much more could be extracted from this report that those with lived experience have known for far too long.

To read more, the report can be accessed here in its three volumes plus appendices, Actions and Findings and factsheet forms.

And an article on the government’s release of the report by the Guardian is at the following:
“Landmark mental health report calls for $4bn upgrade to care from ‘moment’ a person is struggling”

WE AWAIT THE PRIME MINISTER’S CONFIRMATION THAT ALL ACTIONS WILL BEGIN IMPLEMENTATION AS RECOMMENDED.


 

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