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Government invests in NSW and TAS mental health

Older Australians are expected to be among those to benefit from a record spend on mental health that has been announced in the New South Wales (NSW) 2018-2019 Budget and another funding boost has been received by Tasmania.

Dementia Australia says investment in mental health will benefit older Australians with dementia (Source: Shutterstock)
Dementia Australia says investment in mental health will benefit older Australians with dementia (Source: Shutterstock)

An investment of $82.5 million will see the employment of more than 260 mental health workers, an increase in community care and upgrades to mental health infrastructure used to deliver the investment, totalling $2 billion in mental health support.

A statewide Mental Health Infrastructure Program will also be developed with an additional $700 million in funding.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet says this investment symbolises the Government’s commitment to improving the lives of those living with mental health conditions.

“This is the biggest single investment in mental health infrastructure in Australia’s history and reaffirms the NSW Government’s commitment to improving frontline services for vulnerable members of the community,” Mr Perrottet says.

Minister for Mental Health, Tanya Davis says the program will allow the planning of more contemporary mental health facilities across the state.

“We are in the midst of a 10-year reform of how mental health care is delivered,” she says.

“This Budget will support much needed upgrades to some of our most outdated facilities and Safe Assessment Rooms across the state, while also allowing planning to begin on a number of new specialist mental health units.”

Key initiatives of the $2 billion mental health Budget for 2018-19 include:

  • $100 million per year over four years to strengthen early intervention and specialist community mental health teams, enhance psychosocial supports and transition long-stay patients into the community.
  • $39.4 million to deliver an additional 1,400 mental health admissions
  • $42 million for extra community-based mental health services and supports.

Key initiatives of the $700 million Mental Health Infrastructure Program include:

  • $20 million to improve therapeutic environments
  • New specialist mental health units
  • Up to 260 new ‘step-up step-down’ community-based beds to support the transition of long-stay mental health patients
  • Additional beds for the forensic mental health network
  • Upgrades or refurbishments of existing acute mental health units.

Dementia Australia has welcomed the funding commitment to help establish a Mental Health Infrastructure Program, saying it will help older people living with both dementia and a mental health condition.

Chief Executive Officer Maree McCabe says people with dementia often experience mental health issues, with 44 percent of people in residential aged care having a mental health condition.

“People with younger onset dementia often fall between the cracks of disability, health, aged care and mental health systems.”

Tasmania has also received a mental health investment, following an announcement on Wednesday.

Mental health services in North West Tasmania will be improved with mental health nurses and extra support for patients living in regional areas, thanks to a $4.8 million boost from the

Turnbull Government.

The funding is a welcome response to an assessment by the Tasmania Primary Health Network (PHN), highlighting a need for more community-based mental health services in the state’s north west.

The boost will deliver the below key initiatives over four years:

  • $1.6 million to Psychology CAFFE for additional psychological services in Devonport and the surrounding areas for people with moderate to high mental health issues.
  • $2.4 million for a new extended hours mental health nursing service in Devonport to support regional residents with more complex mental health needs.
  • $600,000 for a new psychology service for Burnie residents.
  • $200,000 for additional services for people with complex mental health needs living in the western end of the region and King Island.

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt says mental health is far more prevalent than most people realise.

“This funding will provide extra psychosocial services in Devonport, Latrobe, Burnie and King Island and new mental health nursing services in Devonport,” he says.

Almost half of the Australian population will experience a mental health condition at some stage of their lives.

An additional $338.1 million for mental health funding was included in the 2018-19 Federal Budget.

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