“Stronger Together”

We would like mark Mental Health Week 2018 and congratulate our members in Mental Health for another dedicated year. This year has not been an easy one, with much in the media and social media surrounding the difficulties facing the sector.

This year’s theme “Stronger Together”, geared towards encouraging communities to join together regarding de-stigmatisation and awareness of mental health and wellbeing, is important not only to those we provide care to, but also to ourselves. Nurses, midwives and carers all face daily challenges and it has been increasingly difficult in various sectors.

Recently, media has reported on the Federal Government announcement of a Productivity Commission review of mental health services. Yes, it is another review, however, with $9 billion spent on mental health each year (or 4 per cent of gross domestic product), it is time questions around ‘is this enough money’ – and importantly, ‘is it effective’, are answered.

The costs to the community of mental illness can also be at least $12 billion in lost productivity – and this economic factor only touches the surface of the pain due to rising suicide rates, and the difficulties consumers and carers face navigating systems that lack integration.

With a recent focus on the cuts in acute beds, it is also vital to raise awareness of the lack of integrated community services. Public sector community services were cut a few years ago, and there remains work to do to integrate non-government, public community, private, and public acute services. There are already calls for the productivity commission to look at the allocation of resources and how the balance of acute treatment and prevention and recovery services is achieved to enable consumers to maintain a better sense of wellness and participation.

At a state level, the Tasmanian Government’s ‘Rethink Mental Health’ plan was aimed at improving integration and focussing on early intervention. In Mental Health Week, there was an admission that this process has been slower than planned and that there has also been an increase in demand for services.

Although the Productivity Commission Inquiry has not yet commenced, if you would like to keep updated, please go to https://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/current/mental-health. If you would like to let us know issues you have identified and suggestions for improvement you have, we would love to hear from you at membersupport@anmftas.org.auor 6223 6777.

If you require support for your own mental health, please contact Nurse & Midwife Support on
1800 667 877 (a 24/7 free, confidential service) or www.nmsupport.org.au