Psychologists welcome much needed mental health focus in Federal Budget

Psychologists welcome much needed mental health focus in Federal Budget

Australia’s peak psychology body has welcomed much needed investment in mental health programs to help ease the mental health crisis in Australia, as announced in the 2019 Federal Budget.

The Australian Psychological Society (APS) welcomes the Federal Government’s commitment of additional funding for mental health, including the setting up of walk-in adult mental health treatment centres, greater investment in youth programs through Headspace, healthy workplace programs, eating disorder centres and perinatal mental health support.

APS President Ros Knight said mental health issues in the community had reached crisis point in Australia.

“One in five Australians experience a mental health disorder every year, and mental illness is the third highest cause of burden of disease in Australia,” she said.

Ms Knight said the $114.5 million funding over five years for dedicated mental health treatment centres recognised the urgent need to better care for people experiencing mental health crisis however the investment could have been greater.

“Hospital emergency departments are not set up to care for people in severe psychological distress, particularly when drugs and alcohol are involved. These mental health centres are an important initiative and will provide people with access to healthcare professionals including psychologists trained to provide proper assessment and care.”

Ms Knight said psychologists were also encouraged to see $63 million in funding for six residential eating disorder treatment centres.

“It’s very difficult for people with severe eating disorders to access specialist residential care anywhere in Australia. Dedicated clinics will also enable healthcare teams including psychologists and dieticians to provide best practice care in a safe and appropriate environment.”

“This investment supports the Government’s proposed increased access to psychological services under Medicare for people with eating disorders,” said Ms Knight.

Ms Knight also welcomed $15.2 million funding for the Mentally Healthy Workplace initiatives to provide Australian businesses with strategies to achieve a healthy workplace.

Ms Knight said while the Budget has provided further initiatives for mental health there is still more that should be done.

“We believe a greater investment could be made in the prevention of mental health disorders and greater access to services for children under 12 years, and we would like to see further investment in capacity building in the rural mental health workforce and mental health research,” she said.

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