NDIS issues putting a strain on the mental health system
24 September 2019 at 4:59 pm
Australian governments must work together to ensure people with severe mental health issues who are ineligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme can use psychosocial support services, the National Mental Health Commission says.
The NMHC’s latest report said people with severe mental health issues – a psychosocial disability – deserved the support they needed to live a healthy life, regardless of whether or not they were NDIS participants.
The report said even those who were potentially eligible for the NDIS were struggling to transition into the scheme, with a distrust of the NDIS system, people being too unwell, and an overwhelming scheme application process listed as key reasons for the slow uptake.
“The NDIS is having an impact on the mental health system,” the report said.
“The NMHC has heard that participants are not always getting the support they need, and this is leading to a deterioration of individuals’ mental health and a greater reliance on clinical mental health services, including increased presentations at emergency departments.”
As of 30 June 2019, there were 25,192 people with psychosocial disability (9 per cent of all NDIS participants) using the scheme.
It is expected by full scheme that 64,000 participants (14 per cent of NDIS participants) will be people with a psychosocial disability.
But with an estimated 690,000 Australians living with severe mental health issues, it means up to 91 per cent of people with a psychosocial disability will have to rely on non-NDIS community mental health services for support.
A report earlier this year found only a quarter of people in Commonwealth-funded mental health programs that are set to close in 2020 have successfully transitioned to the NDIS.
The NMHC recommended the federal government extend support for Commonwealth community mental health program clients to at least June 2021.
It said the federal government must work with state and territory governments to ensure people who are ineligible for the NDIS have access to appropriate psychosocial support services.
“All governments have a role in ensuring that people who are ineligible for the NDIS have access to appropriate psychosocial supports,” the report said.
The NMHC also recommended that the National Disability Insurance Agency routinely publish data about participants with psychosocial disability, including information about application, access and planning outcomes.
It praised the NDIA for trying to improve the experience of people with severe mental illness, by making service improvements to the psychosocial disability service stream, undertaking specialised training for NDIA staff, and streamlining the NDIS transition process for those in existing programs.
But it said there were still improvements that needed to be made.
“Concerns remain… around consistencies in eligibility and planning outcomes, lack of understanding of psychosocial disability and how the episodic nature of mental illness and the recovery approach aligns with the NDIS assessment process,” the report said.