Plea made for mental health funding

Lanai Vasek From: The Australian May 01, 2010 12:00AM

A NATIONAL health body devoted solely to mental health research is desperately needed if Australia is to advance treatment of psychotic illnesses and relieve pressure on the hospital system.

Mental health researchers have pleaded with the federal government for more funding to ease the burden on hospital beds and lift stress on the health system from those with severe psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Director of the Centre for Mental Health Research at the Australian National University Helen Christensen said there should be strategic funds put aside for research into psychotic illnesses.

Professor Christensen said Australian scientists could “lead the world in research” if given the right support.

“If there’s research, there’s better treatment, and less weight on the system overall,” she said.

Professor Christensen — who is also a senior principal research fellow at the National Health and Medical Research Council — said there needed to be a separate body, similar to the NHMRC, that could “strategically feed funding” to mental health organisations to ensure adequate investment.

“There needs to be some government leadership on this. . . mental health is just as important as breast cancer awareness and heart disease,” she said.

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