The Liberal National Government will provide a record $1.45 billion for community mental health services and change the funding model to ensure security for both jobs and services.
The funding will be provided through our Government’s innovative 31 Primary Health Networks (PHNs), which are independent regional health organisations that commission health services, including mental health, in response needs of each local community.
It is estimated that one in five people in Australia experience a common mental disorder each year. Nearly half of the Australian population will experience mental illness at some point in their lives, but less than half will access treatment.
Since individuals in different communities face different challenges, it is important that services are tailored to meet the specific needs of the local population.
The types of health services needed in metropolitan communities, for example, differ dramatically from those of communities in remote and regional areas. PHNs play a key role in providing the right services in the right place and at the right time, and are changing the way primary care is delivered in Australia.
PHNs coordinate local support for child and youth mental health, psychological therapy, severe and complex illness, community-based suicide prevention and Indigenous mental health.
In 2017–18, about 200,000 Australians accessed over 900,000 mental health services through local providers commissioned by PHNs.
The record more than $1.45 billion funding over three years from July this year until 2021-22 is $170 million more than what was provided for the previous three years.
It will continue to support important services such as headspace centres, psychological services for hard to reach groups, suicide prevention activities, mental health nurses and mental health support for older Australians.
It is estimated that the $1.45 billion will include:
- $177 million for mental health nurses
- $77 million for suicide prevention including Indigenous suicide
- $74 million for the mental health of those in residential aged care
- $89 million for Indigenous mental health
- $617 million for youth mental health including headspace
- $399 million for psychological therapies for hard to reach populations
The Government will also change the way that PHNs are funded to ensure that the staff and mental health professionals who deliver these critical services will no longer face uncertainty on short term contracts.
This will allow longer term planning, provide job certainty for thousands of people employed in the sector, and deliver a stronger mental health system.
Under this innovative model, funding support for PHNs for mental health services will be extended for three years from July 2019.
Each year, funding will then be extended for a further year subject to the PHN meeting agreed performance measures.
This means PHNs will always have three years of funding certainty.
The new funding process will dramatically improve their ability to ensure that services can be commissioned well in advance at any point in time, and provide greater funding certainty for the community-based mental health sector.
This will particularly benefit those living in rural and remote areas, where staffing shortages due to employment uncertainty have historically reduced access to mental health services.
Funding for mental health services provided specifically for Indigenous Australians through PHNs is also covered under these new arrangements.
The Government has an ongoing commitment to supporting the mental health of Australians.
The work of PHNs in selecting local services that will deliver the best outcomes based on specific community needs is helping deliver a stronger, more integrated mental health system.
This funding will ensure that the mental health dollar lands as close as possible to people living with mental illness, and provides them with the specific support they need, when they need it.
Our Government has prioritised better mental health for all Australians with $4.7 billion expected to be spent on mental health this financial year.
Our Government’s strong economic management ensures we continue to invest record amounts of funding into vital health initiatives including mental health, life-saving medicines, Medicare and hospitals.