Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, speech – 20 March 2024

Read the transcript from Assistant Minister McBride's speech at the launch of the Black Dog Institute's Centre of Research Excellence in Depression Treatment Precision.

The Hon Emma McBride MP
Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention
Assistant Minister Rural and Regional Health

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Good morning, and thank you for the warm welcome Sam. 

Before I begin, I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet – the Ngunnawal peoples. 

I extend that respect to all First Nations People who are here with us today and pay my respects to Elders past and present. 

I would also like to acknowledge the individual and collective contributions of people here today with a lived and living experience of mental ill-health and suicide. Similarly, people who are carers or supporters of people living with mental ill-health, and those who are also making valuable contributions to improving mental health care in Australia. I also acknowledge the staff and researchers at the Black Dog Institute’s new Centre of Research Excellence in Depression Treatment Precision. 

As you know, the number of Australians experiencing mental ill-health continues to rise. Bushfires, drought, floods, COVID-19, climate change and the daily challenges of life continue to take a toll. The Australian Bureau of Statistics tells us more than 40 per cent of adults aged 16-85 have experienced mental ill-health during their lifetime. They also found that more than 50 per cent of LGBTIQA+ people and almost 40 per cent of young people aged 16-24 had experienced mental ill-health in the previous 12 months. The prevalence of mental ill-health has resulted in strong demand for mental health services and added pressure to our mental health care system.  

We know a lot of work needs to be done to make it easier for people to access mental health support and to improve mental health across Australia. This is why we must investigate and research new methods for treating people with depression. Today is an exciting day for mental health research in Australia, as we launch the Black Dog Institute’s Centre of Research Excellence in Depression Treatment Precision. For more than 20 years, the Black Dog Institute has been at the forefront of mental health research. Your work brings together research and practical solutions for people living with mental ill-health, their families and carers.

Researchers at this new collaborative centre will use the latest developments in computer science, health economics, digital health, psychology, and psychiatry to find new and innovative ways to treat depression. They will use the latest developments in artificial intelligence and data analytics to personalise treatment for depression. It’s an exciting and welcome development in mental health in Australia.

The Albanese Government has supported this groundbreaking research, by providing $2.5 million in funding through the National Health and Medical Research Council. Australia’s mental health system is under pressure, much like the wider health system, which is why the government announced the first stage of reform to Australia’s mental health care system last December. 

We began by investing $340 million over 4 years so that every Australian can access crisis support at any time. This funding also provides certainty to key crisis support services including Beyond Blue, Lifeline, Kid’s Helpline and 13YARN. 

During my time working as a specialist mental health pharmacist, I saw first-hand the challenges distress leading to crisis and often resulting in involuntary admission by police or ambulance. We need to make it easier for people to find the support they need, which is why the government has also invested $2.5 million to develop a sector-led national approach for navigating Australia’s mental health care services. 

We’ll continue to support digital mental health services so that Australia can continue to be a global leader in providing these services. We’re investing in services including Lifeline, Beyond Blue, Kid’s Helpline, myCompass, BITE BACK, and Healthy Mind to make mental health care more accessible and convenient. We’re also opening more headspace and Head to Health services across the country.  

The Government will continue to work to ensure people with mental ill-health can get the help they need no matter where they live. 

I thank everyone here who works in the mental health care sector for all you do to care for people with mental ill-health. You are supporting a brighter future for mental health and mental health care in Australia.

I also wish the researchers and staff at this new centre the very best with their research and look forward to hearing about your findings. 

Thank you.

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