Australia lagging on funding for mental health services

Article Australia lagging on funding for mental health services, says Mental Illness Fellowship Published by ABC News 11 May 2015 By Katherine Gregory

Services limited: health workers

Mental health workers are concerned schizophrenia treatments, beyond clinical services, are still limited.

“People with schizophrenia make up half the case loads of the public mental health services in most places,” said David Meldrum, the executive director of the Mental Illness Fellowship Australia (MIFA).

“They get a service, but they get a very basic service.

“Beyond basic medicine of dealing with medications you can’t rely on getting a range of other practical supports to get a life back,” he said.

Mr Meldrum has just started up workshops to teach schizophrenia patients and their carers how to lobby politicians to invest more in mental health services.

Budget gov auFederal funding for mental health has increased over the past seven years by about $1.5 billion.

Data from MIFA shows most OECD countries spend between 12 and 16 per cent of their health budget on mental health services, while Australia only spends eight per cent (see graph above).

“If you look at what’s called the burden of disease by the World Health Organisation, about 14 per cent of what gets dealt with by the health system is caused by mental illness,” Mr Meldrum said.

“And in Australia around about seven per cent of the health budget is dedicated to mental health. So that’s where the idea comes from. It’s only really getting half of what it should get.”

Mr Meldrum said it was not all about money but he hoped the federal budget would not decrease funding.

He said the latest national mental health review recommended more funding into community-based services.

 

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