Mental Health System Needs Urgent Rethink
11 March 2014 at 10:57 am
Australia urgently needs to evolve the way the mental health system is structured to be more efficient and avoid becoming economically unsustainable, a new report claims.
A report into the mental health system in Australia shows an additional cost to the taxpayer of $9 billion if the structure and emphasis of the current system is maintained.
The report, called Crossroads – Rethinking the Australian Mental Health System, is a collaboration between EY and ReachOut.com by Inspire Foundation.
“The National Mental Health Commission has challenged our sector to double the proportion of Australians who receive timely and appropriate mental health services,” Jonathan Nicholas, CEO of ReachOut.com by Inspire Foundation, said at the report’s launch.
“Our projections show that in combination with population growth, an additional $9 billion over 15 years would be needed to provide the extra 8,800 mental health professionals required to meet this objective.”
Crossroads is the second collaborative report on mental health from EY and ReachOut.com by Inspire Foundation, following on from Counting the Cost – The Impact on young men’s mental health on the Australian economy released in June 2012.
“EY worked with ReachOut.com by Inspire Foundation to model the existing and projected workforce requirements in mental health sector across key professions using publicly available data on levels of help seeking; current resourcing; and salary costs,” EY CEO Rob McLeod said.
“Crossroads highlights the urgent need to reform the mental health system in line with the Government’s efficiency agenda.
“To address the increased demand for services, a solution must be sought that enables more Australian’s to access mental health support that is effective, cost-efficient and sustainable.”
In addition to modelling the problem, the Crossroads report offers a number of recommendations that the researchers say can fundamentally change the way mental health care services are delivered in Australia.
“The report advocates the need to evolve our mental health care system to a stepped care framework that provides a range of help options depending on people’s needs,” Jonathan Nicholas said.
“Whilst clinicians play a vital role in helping some people, a 21st century model of mental health care includes a strong focus on scalable options such as online service delivery and self-help.
“It’s critical we re-orientate the system to include promotion, prevention and early intervention of mental health disorders to free up clinicians to assist those in greatest need.
“Australia urgently needs a 21st century system of mental health care.
“The Government is looking for ways to ensure people receive the mental health care they need, and this report provides the impetus for a new way of doing things.”