MHCC Members Forum on Young People and Mental Health – Parliament House Sydney

Speaking at MHCC’s Parliamentary Forum on 26th September 2018, Professor Patrick McGorry called for a people’s movement, Australians for Mental Health, to lift Australia’s under-investment in mental health and to fill the “missing middle” in mental health services between acute and primary care.

Addressing state MP’s and community mental health organisations, Prof McGorry, Executive Director of Orygen, called for a substantial stepwise investment in community based mental health and the establishment of community mental health hubs to support the great number of people currently seeking and not receiving services.

Prof McGorry said change required a groundswell of public support and momentum. “That is what Australians for Mental Health is,’’ he told guests at the MHCC forum. “It is essentially a Get Up! for mental health”.

Awareness raising was not enough, Prof McGorry said, funding also needed to be increased significantly and he pointed out that only 5 percent of the health funding is spent on mental health, when it is 15 percent of the health burden.

Prof McGorry told the gathering that the community mental health system is completely overwhelmed and young people in particular suffered from a lack of early intervention services which had an effect across a lifetime and disproportionately impacted on the community and economy.

The first step in address some of these issues was to integrate services, he said. “Services need more than co-location, they need to have one mission, one culture and to ensure everyone is on the same team.” He described open access, soft-entry centres like headspace, where teams of various workers support people without the need for a label or formal diagnosis, where people with lived experience provide the first contact points, where there is support from the community and no stigma.

Data was also very important to identify suicide clusters and deliver support services accordingly.

Mental health should be as high a priority as cancer, Prof McGorry said in closing.