The NSW Mental Health Commission today welcomed news that the NSW Government will spend an additional $82.5m on mental health services in the 2018-19 NSW Budget.
NSW Mental Health Commissioner Catherine Lourey said she was pleased to see $42 million specifically allocated for additional community-based services, which are vital for a person-led, recovery-focussed mental health system.
“People live and recover in the community, and that is where our investment should be,” Ms Lourey said.
“Community-based support programs help keep people connected to their families, jobs, education and other activities that give them hope and purpose, and are really where our future mental health spending needs to go if we want to prevent people reaching crisis point.”
Features of the 2018-19 NSW Budget that support this goal include:
- $100 million per annum over four years “to strengthen early intervention and specialist community mental health teams, enhance psychosocial supports, and transition long-stay patients to the community”
- $42 million for “additional community-based mental health services and programs”
- “Up to 260 new ‘step-up step-down’ community-based beds to support the transition of long stay mental health patients from hospital” back to living in the NSW community
Ms Lourey said she hoped the NSW Government’s new $700 million Mental Health Infrastructure Program will enable people with acute mental illness to recover sooner.
“Hospitals should never be the front door to the mental health system, however inpatient services that can provide specialist, intensive care to people who are very unwell will always be needed.
“It is extremely important that these services are designed in a way that enables people to feel safe and start healing. Across NSW there are mental health facilities that certainly do not meet this standard. The NSW Government’s announcement that it is going to invest in making mental health services more therapeutic, including upgrading existing wards, is a positive step.”
The Commission also welcomed NSW Government’s additional funding for specialist services and social supports that will help keep people well in their community. These include services for pregnant women and mothers with complex mental illness ($1.1m), the redress scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse ($250m), reducing homelessness ($61.7m), child protection ($59.1m), domestic violence victim support ($44.1m), and mentally healthy workplaces ($55m).
“To successfully reform our mental health system we must keep putting a greater focus on community-based care, strengthening our prevention and early intervention efforts, and delivering person-led care for all,” Ms Lourey said.