Building the Foundations for Better Mental Health Care

The Australian Government will invest $175.8 million to improve mental health services – through more youth-friendly mental health services, more funding for mental health nurses, and funding for packages of care for people with mental illness.

Page last updated: 11 May 2010

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11 May 2010

The Rudd Government will deliver more youth-friendly mental health services, more mental health nurses, and more support for people with mental illness through a $175.8 million package to improve mental health services.

These investments are a down payment to address immediate service gaps in the mental health sector.

As part of the establishment of the National Health and Hospitals Network, the Government intends to take a greater policy and funding role for primary mental health services – to provide better coordinated care for people with mental illness.

More youth-friendly mental health services

The Government will invest $78.8 million to deliver up to 30 new youth-friendly mental health services and provide extra funding for the existing 30 headspace sites to help 20,000 more young people suffering from mental health problems each year.

headspace services provide an entry point to existing primary, community-based and specialist mental health services, as well as broader drug and alcohol programs.

Funding of $25.5 million will also be provided to expand the Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre model, developed in Victoria, to help up to 3,500 more 16-25 year olds each year get earlier diagnosis, treatment and support for psychosis.

More mental health nurses

The Government is committed to supporting and expanding the number of specialist mental health nurses. $13.0 million over two years will be provided to employ 136 mental health nurses and provide an estimated 11,700 sessions to people with mental illness.

Better coordinated care for people with mental illness

A total of $58.5 million will be directed to care packages, providing both clinical and non-clinical care, to better support up to 25,000 people with severe mental illness in a primary care setting.

Under these arrangements, people with severe mental illness who are referred by their GP or psychiatrist can receive a personally tailored package of care.

Patients will find care for their mental health problems easier to access thanks to the services and assistance provided by Medicare Locals.

Medicare Locals will better integrate primary health care in local communities and help to coordinate existing Commonwealth mental health programs such as Personal Helpers and Mentors services, Support for Day to Day Living, and Mental Health Respite.

Sub-acute beds

The Government’s $1.6 billion investment in sub-acute care beds will also support the provision of additional ‘step up’ and ‘step down’ sub-acute services for people with mental health needs, easing their transition from acute care to the community.

This means that patients can be given more appropriate and timely care out of hospital, helping them get the treatment they need quicker.

For all media inquiries, please contact the Minister’s Office on 02 6277 7220