The Morrison Government recognises it is a very challenging time for many Australians, with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on daily life and work having taken a considerable toll on the mental health of individuals and communities.
This is especially so in Victoria, which has endured the worst of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and is subject to further restrictions.
Nationally, since 16 March, there has been a 15% increase in the number of Medicare-subsidised mental health services delivered, with 7.4 million services provided and $819 million paid in benefits.
In Victoria, between September and October, the number of Medicare-funded mental health items has increased by 31% compared to the same period last year. In addition, the use of Beyond Blue’s Support line was 77% higher in Victoria than in the rest of the country, while Victorian use of Lifeline was 16% higher and Kids Helpline 24% higher than the rest of the country. Victorian state data also shows a 33% increase in child and youth contacts in community mental health services for eating disorders.
This data is of significant concern.
We encourage all Australians, and especially Victorians, to continue to stay on top of their mental and physical health and wellbeing wherever possible throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
It is okay not to feel okay. Help is available.
Through unprecedented investment in mental and physical health to support Australians during the pandemic and the restrictions used to contain it, the Morrison Government is ensuring essential supports are available whenever and wherever needed.
We have committed $2.4 billion to provide all Australians with access to telehealth, invested $5 million to fast track electronic prescribing, and provided $25 million to support home delivery of medicines. These services are ensuring everyone can look after their health from home, even if they are subject to movement restrictions.
The Government is also continuing to prioritise mental health and suicide prevention services, with record investment in mental health estimated to be $5.7 billion in 2020-21 alone.