Mental Health Funding Uncertainty ‘Alarming’
9 December 2014 at 9:35 am
Funding uncertainty is having an alarming impact on mental health services including job losses and service cutbacks, according to a national survey of Not for Profit mental health agencies.
The survey undertaken by Mental Health Australia in late November found that 40 per cent of mental health organisations reported they have already experienced a loss of staff and 46 per cent reported a difficulty attracting new staff.
The survey also reported that nine out of 10 mental health organisations would need to reduce staff and most (88 per cent) would need to reduce services if they did not find out about their funding future.
“The results of this survey are worse than we anticipated. Indeed, 73 per cent of respondents said they would be forced to reduce local options for consumers. That’s deeply concerning,” Mental Health Australia CEO Frank Quinlan said.
“Similar uncertainty last year saw 40 per cent of Not for Profit mental health providers report they were forced to reduce services. We can’t have that happening again.
“They’ve told us that, once again, this lack of certainty is affecting the morale of staff and clients, and resulting in a reduction of confidence.”
The data comes as the National Mental Health Commission this week provided their Report into the Review of Existing Mental Health Services and Programmes.
“We understand the Government’s response to this very important Review is currently being considered. However, we urge the Commonwealth to provide assurances on funding so that the current level of service provision can continue in the meantime,” Quinlan said.
“We want to see consistency of funding arrangements outside election and budget cycles as well as a commitment to a ten-year program of reform for mental health in Australia.”
Shadow Minister for Mental Health Senator Jan McLucas said she was particularly concerned that most organisations feel they will have no choice but to reduce the services available to consumers if the lack of certainty continues.
“For the sake of people living with mental illness, their representative organisations and service providers I urge the Abbott Government to release its mini-budget now and commit to at least twelve months funding for mental health sector.
“The continued uncertainty will only see organisations shed staff and cut programs and services,” she said.