New investments in mental health care announced by the government today will pay dividends, according to the Australian Psychological Society.
Executive Director of the Australian Psychological Society Professor Lyn Littlefield said that the new initiatives announced showed the government had been listening to the mental health sector and that the funding would bolster a significantly under-funded area of health spending.
"An injection of $276.9 million into the mental health budget will make a significant difference, especially as the government has funded programs that stretch from early intervention to crisis services and cover people across the lifespan," she said.
Professor Littlefield said $43.6 million in funding for early intervention services for children, including KidsMatter, was particularly important as those services provide the opportunity to build resilience in children, provide support for families and link children identified as being at risk with appropriate services.
"In KidsMatter we have a world-class intervention for children so additional funding for the roll of out of that program is likely to have a significant impact on generations of Australians," Professor Littlefield said.
"It is also important that there is more support for those children identified as being at risk as they can now be effectively linked to psychological care and offered support."
She said the government's broad approach to mental health funding was needed and many of those who had not had services available or who did not access services such as men and people at risk of suicide were being catered for, with $22.8 million for men's services and $74.3 million for suicide prevention and crisis intervention services.
By channelling some of the mental health funding through ATAPS services, she said, the government was supporting mental health care in primary care settings and by mandating more collaborative care it was likely to achieve better outcomes particularly for people with complex and chronic conditions.
The Australian Psychological Society, she said, was pleased that the new initiatives acknowledged the important role of psychologists as part of the mental health workforce. She said psychological input was particularly important in the design and delivery of prevention and early intervention programs.
"Front line services and community support services are also critical, because all the evidence supports early intervention. The more preventative and early intervention work we can do the better and that work will significantly reduce the mental health burden," Professor Littlefield said.
She added, "I think there has been recognition of the depth and breadth of need and there has been an effort to address gaps in current services," she said. "Mental health issues don't discriminate; they affect people in all age groups and assistance is required across the spectrum of need. So I hope this initiative also signals that this government and governments into the future realise that funding for mental health is an investment that will benefit the whole society, the whole community as well as delivering improved mental health outcomes."
The APS is the largest professional association for psychologists in Australia, representing more than 19,000 members. The APS is committed to advancing psychology as a discipline and profession. It spreads the message that psychologists make a difference to peoples' lives, through improving psychological knowledge and community wellbeing.
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