Mental Health Needs 21st Century Approach
7 July 2010 at 4:10 pm
Australian of the Year, Professor Patrick McGorry has addressed the National Press Club in Canberra calling on the Federal Government to adopt a 21st century approach to mental health.
Professor McGorry recommended a 5 point plan to update what he describes as Australia?s failing mental health care system with a 21st Century model that saves lives and averts disability.
Prof. McGorry outlined how expanding services, focusing on young people in the most productive stage of life and implementing recent innovations in mental healthcare can benefit Australians.
He says expanding services can eliminate many of the 370,000 Australian life-years lost annually to mental ill-health, make suicide less common and reduce social problems such as homelessness, family breakdown and violence.
He says the building blocks of a genuinely 21st Century approach to care already exist in Australia and there is widespread consensus about what those building blocks are.
He says Australia can, and should, make an immediate start by investing $540m per year towards improving mental health services – including youth mental health priorities such as headspace and early psychosis services, community awareness campaigns, rapid response teams, social housing and suicide prevention.
He says an Auspoll conducted in June 2010 found 83% of Australians support this level of investment in mental health.
Prof. McGorry added that the investment in services should be complemented with a $100m a year research investment in mental health.
He continued by saying that initial investment would be a first step and not a final destination.
A 10 year action plan, with measurable goals and targets, focused on the areas of leadership, funding, access, skills and accountability is also required to address all systemic issues and ensure that all Australians have the same access to quality care for mental and physical health by 2020.
He says the action plan should aim to set meaningful targets, lift funding for mental health to levels similar to comparable countries, make access to quality care the norm, continuously develop new knowledge, best practice and the workforce and ensure that services meet measurable benchmarks and are acceptable to users.