Calls for increased mental health funding following release of NSW Budget

Calls for increased mental health funding following release of NSW Budget
Image: Prostock-studio, Shutterstock

In Tuesday’s Budget, the NSW Government announced measures to relieve health workers in hospitals and a reward system for medical centres that bulk-bill their patients. But some have said that not enough is being done for mental health.

“The budget offers no additional funding for mental health since the mental health inquiry report was released,” said Dr Amanda Cohn, Greens spokesperson for Health including Mental Health, and former GP.

“That’s really not good enough considering the crisis we know that system is facing right now and that spending on mental health is well below what it should be as a proportion of the burden of disease,” she continued.

Earlier in June, a NSW inquiry into community and outpatient mental health care handed down its report, making a suite of recommendations to address issues like unsafe workloads, inappropriate responses to mental health emergencies, and shortfalls in funding.

“The government is trying to push these mental health initiatives as solutions but the truth is that a single front door program doesn’t work if there’s nowhere for people to go from there to get ongoing support,” said Dr Cohn.

“The same goes for creating new community mental health positions despite the fact that such poor pay and conditions for those roles will see them go unfilled.”

Mental Health Coordinating Council (MHCC) similarly welcomed the mental health funding but identified the pressing need for greater investment in psychosocial mental health supports across the state.

Dr Evelyne Tadros, CEO of MHCC, said “In light of the cost-of-living pressures, the significant impacts of continuing natural disasters and unmet mental health needs – the mental health and wellbeing of the people of NSW must be front and centre.”

“While we appreciate the new initiatives and ongoing commitments, there remains a significant need for increased investment in psychosocial support services to facilitate recovery for those with mental health challenges,” she continued.

No new measures were announced on Tuesday following the pre-budget announcements, which included:

  • $10m a year over 4 years for the Pathways to Community Living Initiative.
  • $7.6m a year over 4 years for Community Mental Health Teams.
  • $9.75m a year over 4 years for a Mental Health Single Front Doorstrengthening services delivered through Healthdirect providing Virtual GP, virtualKIDS and Urgent Care Services.
  • $2.4m for the Mental Health Review Tribunal to enable a long overdue digitisation of records, an upgrade to IT systems and an investment in a new case management system.

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