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A Landmark $2.3 Billion Investment for Mental Health Services Has Been Announced in the Federal Budget

It's the single largest Commonwealth commitment to mental health and suicide prevention in history. 
By Ellen Seah
May 12, 2021
By Ellen Seah
May 12, 2021

A broad national network of mental health treatment centres, including up to 57 additional clinics for adults, is part of the Federal Government's landmark $2.3 billion investment in the mental health sector. It represents the single largest Commonwealth commitment to mental health and suicide prevention in history, according to the Coalition.

Announced as part of the 2021–22 Federal Budget on Tuesday night, the new National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan brings the government's total estimated mental health spending to $6.3 billion in 2021–2022. The lion's share of spending ($1.4 billion) will go towards improving the accessibility of mental health services for vulnerable Australians. This includes improving access to community-based mental health services ($487.2 million) with an initial 32 new centres for adults, and expanding the existing Headspace network for youth aged 12–25  through the establishment of ten new dedicated clinics ($278.6 million).

"The past twelve months have no doubt been some of the most difficult for many young people. It's not surprising that we've seen an increase in need across all parts of the mental health system," Headspace CEO Jason Trethowan said in a statement. "We know increased investment in early intervention is key to supporting young people's mental health."

Pexels stock image: Anastasia-Shuraeva

Almost $249 million of the spend is allocated to prevention and early intervention, including investments into broadening the digital services available in Australia through a new, world-class digital platform. The system will be home to online professional counselling as well as offering peer and clinical support under Head to Health.

A further $298 million is promised for suicide prevention, with the government committing more than half of this spend ($158.6 million) to ensuring Australians who attempt suicide receive continued care and support once they leave hospital.

Another $107 million is dedicated to supporting vulnerable groups in the community, which includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-specific services such as a 24/7 crisis line run by Indigenous Australians. $202 million is also committed to training and growing the mental health workforce.

"We have a monumental task ahead of us to ensure that our system levels up to our expectations, and treats people with the care and compassion they deserve," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement. "[This] is an investment for all Australians."

Currently, one in five Australians experience mental health issues every year. 3,000 Australians lose their lives to suicide each year and it remains the leading cause of death for Australians aged 15–44 years old.

You can read the Federal Government's National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan online. A media release is also available to the public, or head to the government's website to view a range of available fact sheets.

Published on May 12, 2021 by Ellen Seah
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