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Public funding for Adult Mental Health Centres welcomed but more investment needed

Grassroots mental health advocacy group Australians for Mental Health (AFMH) welcomes the Australian Government’s commitment of $114.5 million over five years for an adult mental health centre pilot program in Tuesday’s federal budget.

AFMH championed this proposal to publicly fund holistic and integrated after-hours mental health support for adults to fill a gap in the system. We congratulate Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Prime Minister Scott Morrison on recognising its merit.

“Australians for Mental Health is extremely pleased the Government has rightly acknowledged that mental health is an issue of deep concern to all Australians and that suicide is a national tragedy,” AFMH Board Member and former Australian of the Year Professor Patrick McGorry said.

“This announcement of a pilot program for adult mental health centres is a landmark day for people with lived experienced, their families and the broader sector. The pilot is a good start and we look forward to seeing further investment,” Professor McGorry said.

“Mental health must be a bipartisan issue. The Shorten Labor Opposition must match and preferably surpass the Government’s mental health commitments, especially on adult mental health centres, in Thursday night’s budget reply speech,” Professor McGorry concluded.

This is a substantial achievement for Australians for Mental Health and reflects the importance of grassroots movements in Australian advocacy for health care. AFMH looks forward to working with the Australian Government to carefully co-design this important pilot program before it is rolled out in 2020-21.

BACKGROUND ON ADULT MENTAL HEALTH CENTRES
The pilot program has received a total funding commitment in Federal Budget 2019-20 of $114.5 million over five years from 2020-21 to trial eight mental health centres that deliver a range of free, specialised mental health support services for adults requiring treatment, particularly after-hours.

As outlined in the budget, these centres will provide walk-in, coordinated care and advice for anyone with concerns, and will address what is seen by many as a missing gap in the health system. The centres will be rolled out in eight yet-to-be-determined locations nationally. If implemented correctly this pilot program may serve as a model for a future larger
investment of public funds in critical mental health services.

To be successful, these adult mental health centres must offer service navigation support, specialist psychiatric care, psychological services, social and community support services, drug and alcohol counselling, 24/7 assertive outreach and ambulatory care, consulting rooms for visiting specialists, facilities for GPs and allied health professionals, and online and telephone hotline services.

The funding commitment can be found at:
- Budget Paper No. 1, Statement 1, Page 1-21
- Budget Paper No. 2, Part 2, Page 104

BACKGROUND ON AFMH
Australians for Mental Health (AFMH) is a not for profit organisation that seeks to make mental health a national political priority so that we can together achieve once in a generation change to how we support four million Australians and their families who have been touched by mental illness.

AFMH is a people’s movement, guided by experts, that is fighting to fix Australia’s broken system. We are a passionate voice for people with lived experience.

AFMH is governed by an Independent Board of Directors that includes experts and people with lived and carer experience including John Brogden and Professor Patrick McGorry, and our Patrons include Maggie Beer, Jessica Rowe and Allan Fells.

AFMH is funded through a combination of philanthropic and crowd-source funding. We do not accept from governments of any political persuasion to ensure we are able to hold politicians to account.

FOR ADDITIONAL COMMENT:
Steve Michelson
Media contact for Australians for Mental Health
0427 906 100
http://www.australiansformentalhealth.org.au/