Psychologists welcome appointment of Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Mental Health

Australia’s peak body for psychology has welcomed the appointment of Australia’s first Deputy Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for Mental Health, Associate Professor Ruth Vine.

Australian Psychological Society (APS) President Ros Knight said the appointment of Associate Professor Vine, the former Chief Psychiatrist for Victoria, was a wise and appropriate decision.

“Associate Professor Vine brings a wealth of expertise and experience to the role, and I am confident her contribution to the Government’s pandemic response will be most valuable.

“This appointment will go a long way to ensuring that every Australian has access to the mental health care and support they need both during, and after, this challenging time.

Ms Knight said psychologists were already seeing a rise in mental health problems, and a potential increase in the number of suicides could follow.

“We are now seeing the significant mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic emerging, and we know some of these impacts are likely to be long-lasting.

“It is believed that the pandemic could lead to a 50 per cent increase in suicide, directly related to the economic shutdown and the associated distress Australians experience from it.

“Today’s announcement signals that the Australian Government remains committed to addressing mental ill-health, particularly during the pandemic, and as we emerge from it.

“We commend the Government, and in particular the Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt for prioritising support of the mental health and wellbeing of all Australians on the road out of the pandemic.

“We look forward to seeing more detail about the Government’s forthcoming National Mental Health Pandemic Response Plan, and to working closely with Associate Professor Vine in her new role,” she said.

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