$1 billion plan for mental health boost wins praise

The facts and figures
The facts and figures

A PROPOSAL to increase community-based mental health funding by $1 billion has drawn widespread support from sectors of the Southern Downs community.

The recommendation was made in a report produced as part of a Federal Government review into national mental health programmes and services.

Highlighted in the leaked report was a proposal to shift $1 billion in federal funding from hospital treatment to the community-based mental health sector.

A need for widespread public knowledge and understanding of mental health issues and access for patients in the right place at the right time was also highlighted in the report.

Partners in Recovery Darling Downs-South West manager Trish Feehely said as a community-based mental health worker she kept nodding her head as she read through the report.

"Most community-based services feel like this is the track we want to be on - it's a very encouraging sign for us," she said.

"With mental health services it's not just once size fits all.

"Shifting funding to reblance the system is what this report highlights - that community-based services aren't seen as being less than but equal to clinical and acute services."

"Access to mental health services, care and support is a really important issue," she said.

"Warwick is very fortunate as community of it's size to have some amazing services but there is still a way to go.

Acute care is an essential part of the system

Reform we want is to support where accute and community work together

Most important thing is going from acute to community

In the report there's a lot of talk about a stepped approach to care

To try and avoid hospitilisation we need to do as much as we can working together

Access to services is really important where ever you are

Southern Downs MP Lawrence Springborg has declared himself as a big supporter of moving more towards community-based mental health care.

Mr Springborg said he believed the strengths of community-based care and support was in giving people the skills and capacity to have a meaningful life.

"The best models for mental health support are community-based models," he said.

"We've got to judge our success in this by what we do with our money, not just by coming up with a big figure of money."

During his time as Health Minister, Mr Springborg said the State Government spent a billion dollars each year on mental health.

"When I was Health Minister, we set up the Mental Health Commission which has a focus on community-based mental health support," he said.

"A community based model was what I was working towards in Queensland."

Despite the report's findings, there is no guarantees the funding recommendation will be implemented by the Federal Government - causing great concern to a number of federally-funded community-mental health services.

Mrs Feehely said the uncertainty of funding was causing a lot of stress.

"Funding ceases mid-next year for most organisations funded by the federal government, including Partners in Recovery," she said.

"It always causes a lot of uncertainty for people who are using the support of these services.

The mental health review has calculated federal taxpayers are spending $10 billion on mental health care, but there is no way of calculating how effective the funding has been.

Mr Springborg said the way mental health care was funded lacked clarity and a lot of funding had been wasted by duplication.

"The big challenge we had was working out who's jurisdiction it is," he said.

"There's no clarity about who is responsible for mental health funding.

"You do need to work out so every jurisdiction knows what its responsible for."

Topics:  support

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