Mental health crisis needs urgent action, not empty promises

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Jonathan Coleman’s long-awaited response to the mental health crisis shows he has no understanding of the mental health crisis, the PSA says.

The Minister of Health has today released details of a "social investment approach" to mental health, including a National Improvement Programme funded from within existing baselines.

He also referred to the government’s $321 million package of social investment spending, but did not say whether mental health would be included in that or funded separately.

"This announcement shows National has no idea of the seriousness of the mental health crisis, and has no clue how to address it," PSA National Secretary Erin Polaczuk says.

"There are a few bandaids in Dr Coleman’s first aid kit, but nothing to address the growing demand and the massive unmet need in the system."

Dr Coleman would not give any detail about how the social investment approach would work, or how services would be targeted.

"We are very sceptical about the highly-targeted nature of other social investment programmes put in place by this government," Ms Polaczuk says.

"If this signals that mental health services will only be targeted towards a small at-risk group, thousands of others will miss out.

"The cross-agency collaborative approach to mental health is nothing new, and Dr Coleman’s statement that it can be funded within existing baselines is troubling.

"National needs to make urgent and significant investment into mental health to ensure services are adequately funded and resourced, and staffed by experienced, highly skilled workers.

"Today’s announcement shows a worrying lack of thought about what’s really needed by our mental health services - and how this crisis will be fixed."