Budget Reflects The Stigma Of Mental Illness

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12th May 2010, 07:27pm - Views: 462
Budget Reflects the Stigma of Mental Illness

Suicide Prevention Australia welcomes the mental health measures that the Government has committed to in the 2010-2011 budget, however calls for much greater investment in our nation's most vulnerable people. In the words of the Government's own National Health and Hospital Network report, Australia's mental health services remain 'fragmented', the 'quality of services vary' and 'service coordination remains poor', furthermore services are 'difficult to access' and patients 'fall through the cracks' or get stuck in the 'revolving door' of the mental health system. In this context, the Governments investment of $175.8 million in mental health is life-threateningly short.

Inexplicably, despite recent traction, the gap between physical and mental health spending has grown and mental illness remains a severely neglected cause of morbidity and mortality in Australia. It begs the question, has the Government consulted with those with lived experience of mental illness, self harm or suicide to inform this budget?

As a leading cause of death and devastating outcome of mental illness, suicide prevention has completely fallen off the Governments radar for this budget. SPA is hopeful that the announced spending is the down payment for future investment and will lay foundations for further reform as has been suggested. The upcoming reports of the Senate Inquiry into Suicide and the House of Representatives Youth Suicide Inquiry will be an opportunity for the Rudd Government to make up for the ground lost in this budget, and SPA will be expecting the implementation of measures that have been shown will save lives, including early intervention and increased service access. Notwithstanding these future developments, there is a need to address mental illness and suicide prevention now, just ask any one of the 4 million Australians who suffer from mental illness, the 380,000 who report feeling suicidal every year, or the families and friends of the 2191 people who died by suicide in 2008 alone.

Dr Michael Dudley, Chair of Suicide Prevention Australia echoes the "call for a coherent and coordinated mental health strategy, which contains the practical measures and resources needed to support the rhetoric of current policy, and to make real changes in the lives of people affected by mental illness. The federal Government's commitment to take over responsibility for community mental health care is an opportunity for them to demonstrate leadership in this area, but a whole of government Suicide Prevention strategy is still critically absent."

Suicide is everyone's concern and is preventable. The sooner we have the resources and sound structure to address the causes of suicide, the more lives will be saved.

Please refer to the Mindframe Media guidelines when reporting about suicide, available at: http://www.mindframe-media.info/

For more information contact:

Dr Michael Dudley
Chair SPA
02 9382 4347
0405 539 952

Mr Ryan McGlaughlin
02 9568 3111
0425 382 800

SOURCE: Suicide Prevention Australia

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