Priorities for action on mental health in NSW

Letter sent to NSW MPs outlining steps needed to turn around deficits in DELIVERY OF MENTAL HEALTH CARE.
The Mental Health Coordinating Council has laid out its road map for action to create a mental health system that ensures people living with mental conditions get the services they need.

MHCC details its priorities in a Position Paper NSW Parliamentary Briefing – Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health.

The Position Paper was sent to members on all sides of the NSW Parliament, with a call to urgently increase investment in mental health services.

As a priority, the MHCC Position Paper urges the NSW Government to lock down an agreement over funding for mental health with the Commonwealth Government.

“We urge NSW to lead the nation by increasing its investment in mental health services in the forthcoming Budget and committing to a new National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Agreement,” MHCC CEO Carmel Tebbutt says.


Not enough investment to meet need

NSW is doing much right, but there are key gaps and barriers which need to be fixed so people get the support they need, when they need it rather than waiting for a crisis.

“Turning this deficit around will not happen overnight but the Productivity Commission report provides a critical opportunity for the NSW Government to work with the Australian Government to meet the mental health needs of our community,” Ms Tebbutt says.

“It is now time for governments to act on these reforms, so that people living with a mental illness can expect the same sort of support that someone living with a physical illness receives.”

This is particularly pressing for the estimated 46,000 in NSW who fall into the ‘missing middle’ and are not receiving the support they need.

“In NSW, steps can be taken to expand psychosocial supports for the thousands of people who need more care than a GP can offer alone,” Ms Tebbutt says.

“There are services delivered by community mental health organisations that would support people in this ‘missing middle’ with daily living skills, access to education or employment and participation in social and recreational activities.”

Psychosocial supports and rehabilitation the answer

NSW has the one of the lower levels of spending on mental health services delivered by community managed mental health organisations in the country.

Immediate government action is required to address this.

The NSW Government needs to invest in a greater number of services and programs, provided in the community by organisations with a strong local presence so people get the services they need in the right place, at the right time.

Evidence clearly demonstrates that people accessing psychosocial rehabilitation and support programs and services, stay well for longer, have more chance of completing their educational goals, gaining and sustaining employment and experiencing social participation and achieving their aspiration.

Without adequate community mental health programs and services, provided in the main by not-for-profit community organisations, there will be an unsustainable, growing demand on our hospital system for acute and crisis care.

“To rebalance and reorient the entire mental health system to improve the lives of those missing out on services will be complex but a number of steps can be taken right away,” Ms Tebbutt says.

Lives are being lost, quality of life diminished and action is needed now.

Three facts in NSW
  • Almost 1 in 5 adults in NSW experience mental illness in any given year.
  • Mental health-related emergency department presentations in NSW increased by a staggering 83% in the ten years to 2019.
  • The cost to the NSW economy of mental illness and suicide is estimated at around $4000 per person every year.

Read the MHCC Position Paper NSW Parliamentary Briefing – Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health

See the one-page Key Recommendations MHCC priorities for action on mental health in NSW