We can no longer remain silent. We must #EndThisMadness and create positive change for all Australians.
On behalf of all of our supporters and members, Australians for Mental Health will endeavour to contact federal MPs and candidates across the country to address our concerns regarding the current state of the mental health system in Australia and the desperate need for action.
While we will push and pull to be heard by all sides of politics, the greatest voice in any election is that of a constituent. We encourage all supporters to take action by contacting your local candidates with your own letter. We have provided a stencil below that you may like to use as a guide.
Your voice. Your vote.
Local MP/National Minister/Electoral Candidate
c/ High Street, Local Town/c- Parliament House, Canberra
We need your leadership and your vocal support to address our nation's ongoing failure to provide adequately for the mental health needs of the 3.2 million Australians who suffer mental illness every year.
While the Turnbull government has begun to implement some structural reforms affecting federal government funded services, such is the neglect and dysfunction affecting Australia’s mental health system that much more is going to be required from all governments and all political parties. We need your leadership, because this is a national emergency.
Australians with mental illness are dying by the thousands each year. Suicide is increasing, with the annual toll now over 2,800, a 20% rise in the past decade, and 91% of those lost having experienced a mental illness (1). Comparatively, cancer death rates have reduced by 17% between 1991 and 2011 (2). This shows that, given the will, we could do the same with suicide.
Each year there are also an estimated 9,000 premature deaths due to largely preventable physical illnesses among people with a mental illness (3). As a result of these high numbers of suicides and premature deaths due to physical illness, there is a 14-year life expectancy gap between Australians with and without a mental disorder (4). This discrepancy is an unacceptable reality for too many Australians.
ASK: Commit to reducing the suicide toll by 50% by 2020. In the longer term, suicide prevention should work ‘Towards Zero’ like our road toll.
Despite these tragic realities, state and federal governments continue to starve mental health services of funding. They assign only approximately 7% of the federal health budget to mental health even though mental illness represents 13.6% of Australia’s total burden of disease (5,6,7). Due to inadequate investment, specialist mental health support services often face uncertainty and the ongoing threat of losing further funding and this has a direct impact on the experiences faced by consumers and carers. There has to be a coordinated approach to any structural changes in the system to ensure that no individual who is reliant on these specialised care is adversely affected. We must put people first and ensure that we do no harm.
ASK: Establish parity between mental and physical healthcare by increasing mental health expenditure from 7% to 13% of the total federal health budget.
Ask: Guarantee ongoing funding for effective existing services, and allow specialist services to be delivered independently of a central gateway.
I am joining the fight to #EndThisMadness and address a national emergency in which this country is failing those with mental illnesses and at risk of suicide. I hope you formally join us in this fight as we, the 3.2 millions of Australians touched by mental illness as well as their families, friends and carers, need your leadership and action now more than ever.
As a constituent of your electorate, I would like to engage with you in improving the mental health of all Australians. I am interested to know what stance you, irrespective of your party’s view, take in light of the key asks, facts and concerns articulated above. I look forward to hearing back from you.
YOUR HOME ADDRESS (important to show that you are a member of the electorate)
YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS
1. Cavanagh J, Carson A, Sharpe M, Lawrie S. Psychological autopsy studies of suicide: a systematic review. Psychological Medicine. 2003 Apr;33(3):395-405.
2. AIHW 2014. Australia’s health 2014. Australia’s health series no. 14. Cat. no AUS 178. Canberra: AIHW.
3. Magarey J. Disease kills mental-health patients earlier: report. The Australian. 2014 Nov 24.
4. Lawrence D, Hancock K, Kisely S. The gap in life expectancy from preventable physical illness in psychiatric patients in Western Australia: retrospective analysis of population based registers. British Medical Journal. 2013;346(7909):f2539.1- f2539.14.
5. Expenditure on mental health services [Internet]. [Canberra:] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare; c2012 [cited 2016 May 27]. Available from: https://mhsa.aihw.gov.au/resources/expenditure/.
6. AIHW 2015. Health expenditure Australia 2013–14. Health and welfare expenditure series no. 54. Cat. no. HWE 63. Canberra: AIHW.
7. GBD Compare Viz Hub [Internet]. [Seattle:] Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation; c2015 [cited 2016 May 27]. Available from:http://vizhub.healthdata.org/gbd-compare/.