Government’s long-term plan for mental health welcomed

Government’s long-term plan for mental health welcomed

15 August 2019

Government’s long-term plan for mental health welcomed

Orygen welcomes yesterday’s announcement by federal health minister Greg Hunt that mental health will be one of four pillars in the Australian Government’s Long Term National Health Plan.

The plan, detailed in an address Minister Hunt gave to the National Press Club, gives mental health equivalence with physical health; the first time such a commitment has been made by government.

Orygen’s executive director, Professor Patrick McGorry, said the plan’s focus on a person-centred service delivery system – where people experiencing mental ill-health could access the support they needed when they needed it – was critical to addressing the needs of the 1.5 million Australians annually who are known as the ‘missing middle’, people who are deemed too unwell to access primary mental health care services but not unwell enough to access acute mental health services. It was essential to also meeting the government’s ‘zero suicide’ target, Professor McGorry said.

In his press club address Minister Hunt noted that Australia’s mental health system needs to be better integrated,” Professor McGorry said. “We couldn’t agree more. The National Mental Health Partnership will be crucial to providing a clearer picture of the role of states, territories and the Commonwealth in mental health service delivery. This is the holy grail. Forging an agreement about which level of government is responsible for what and creating strong linkages between the different parts of the mental health service system so that everyone who needs mental health care can access it in a timely manner is essential and, I believe, within reach.

We look forward to deploying Orygen’s world-leading research capacity in health services research and evaluation and working with the government on building the architecture of this new system as well as the culture of care required to meet people’s needs.”

Professor McGorry said he welcomed the government’s announcement of a new Intergenerational Health and Mental Health Study, which would not only assist in the planning of health services but also presented an opportunity for the outcomes of the government’s long-term health plan to be evaluated. “Data is vital to making evidence-based decisions. My hope is that this survey will be undertaken at least every five years – and ideally every three years – so we have evidence for which of the government’s strategies are working and which require refinement.

It was inspiring to hear the minister describe his commitment, as well as that of the treasurer and Prime Minister, to intergenerational health reform and a zero suicide target. These are ambitious goals that will require bold leadership, substantial new investments, and major reform. We look forward to supporting the government in bringing about this once in a generation change.