Commitment to Mental Health Reform Continues

The 2013-14 Budget underlines the Australian Government’s commitment to ongoing mental health reform.

Page last updated: 19 February 2014

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14 May 2013

The 2013-14 Budget underlines the Gillard Government’s commitment to ongoing mental health reform.

Building on the Government’s five-year $2.2 billion National Mental Health Reform package announced in the 2011-12 Budget, initiatives will be funded in this Budget to support Australians living with and recovering from mental illness, including expectant and new mothers experiencing depression.

Perinatal depression

Funding of $37.4 million over four years will improve prevention and early detection of antenatal and postnatal depression and provide better support and treatment for expectant and new mothers experiencing depression.

Building on the existing National Perinatal Depression Initiative (NPDI), the funding comprises:

    • $35.4 million to continue a National Partnership Agreement with state and territory governments for screening, support services, and training for health professionals; and
    • $2 million to beyondblue for continued national coordination and leadership in the implementation of the NPDI.
Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, said addressing perinatal depression provides real benefits for mother, baby, family and community.

"This funding will be a big help for some of our new mums who may be finding things overwhelming and for young children who, the research tells us, can also be affected by the condition," Mr Butler said.

"Treating the condition in the perinatal period is good for mother and child and it is a cost-effective way of preventing mental illness later in life."

Research undertaken by beyondblue shows that up to one in 10 women experience depression during pregnancy and this increases to almost one in six in the months following the birth of the baby.

Continued funding will also be provided via the Access to Allied Psychological Services program for the prioritisation and treatment of women with perinatal depression, totalling $20 million over the next four years.

Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program

Around 60,000 people living with a severe and persistent mental illness will continue to get the care they need with new funding in this Budget to support the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program.

An additional $23.8 million over 12 months will ensure that the existing equivalent of approximately 375 full-time mental health nurses can continue to provide coordinated clinical care and support to some of the most vulnerable in our community.

Funding will continue to be allocated in 2013-14 under the current rules of the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program, which provides incentive payments to GPs, psychiatrists and other eligible organisations to employ mental health nurses.

"Mental health nurses play a key role in delivering mental health care," Mr Butler said.

"They are critical to providing vulnerable patients with support during periods of significant disability – including monitoring a patient’s mental state, medication management, and linking with other support services."

"This coordinated care for people with severe and persistent mental illness helps keep them well in the community and out of hospital."

A recent evaluation of the program has found that patients receiving regular care from mental health nurses benefit from greater continuity of care and more follow-up. Patients get support when they need it and are complying more with their treatment.

Mr Butler said he would work closely with stakeholders to restructure and improve the program in 2013-14.

National Mental Health Reform package

The new funding provided in this Budget compliments what is already a big program of reform and investment planned in 2013-14 under the Government’s $2.2 billion National Mental Health Reform package which remains fully funded for the period 2011-12 to 2015-16.

Mr Butler said key elements of the reform package which are planned for the 2013-14 financial year will further boost services across the board.

"Our Partners in Recovery program will begin rolling out in 2013-14 providing coordinated support and flexible funding for people with severe and ongoing mental illness with complex support needs," Mr Butler said.

"Partners in Recovery is a key plank in the reform plan, designed to pull together services like income support, housing, employment, medical care and education which can often lack coordination.

"It addresses one of the major issues in our mental health service system – a lack of coordination in the care and support provided across a range of agencies."

Mr Butler said this was just one of a range of programs funded under the reform package which will expand in 2013-14, along with the rollout of new headspace centers, the MindSpot online mental health clinic, and services for young people experiencing early psychosis.

We’re protecting funding for mental health services while the opposition wants to cut services like this to the bone.

This budget keeps our economy strong, makes the smart investments for our future and ensures every Australian gets a fair go.

Media contact: Tim O’Halloran – 0409 059617