Mental health has attracted a significant amount of new investment in the federal government’s latest budget.
Nurses have applauded the federal government for delivering a well-balanced investment in mental health, but questioned where the staff will come from for the new services and programs.
The budget included a total of $2.2 billion over 5 years for national mental health reform, made up of $1.5 billion of new funding and $700 million of previously announced funding.
Kim Ryan, CEO of the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses, said the extra funding was focussed on areas of greatest need across the range of services that people who experience mental health issues required.
“It is a well balanced plan, providing funding to early intervention and primary care services, as well as to community programs and services that provide treatment options for people with complex and longer-term mental health issues,” Ryan said in a statement.
Included in the package was $32 million over five years, including $12 million in new funding, to establish a new National Mental Health Commission. The core function of the commission will be to monitor, assess and report on how the system is performing and its impact on consumer and carer outcomes. Its first task will be to produce a National Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention in 2012.
While backing the majority of the mental health reform package, the ACMHN – together with the ANF, is calling on the government to enter into “urgent discussions” with the sector's key stakeholders to identify ways to develop the workforce needed to deliver the announced new services and programs.
"The government needs an integrated strategy to ensure the workforce is equipped and supported to deliver on the Budget's significant investment in mental health," Ryan said.
"It is crucial to identify where additional health professionals and other mental health workers will come from, and to up-skill the current workforce to deliver the new services.
"Attracting and retaining nurses and other health professionals in the disadvantaged areas being targeted by this investment will be a challenge and we look forward to working with the government on these workforce issues."
Full details of the mental health and other budget measures are available at www.budget.gov.au.Do you have an idea for a story?
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