Yesterday Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor announced a new mental health support package, jointly funded by the Commonwealth and NSW Government. Total funds of $17.35 million have been allocated for a range of mental health services across NSW, of which $5.15 million comes from the State Government.
This emergency support package is designed to boost existing crisis and mental health services, including:
- $7 million to headspace for additional youth support
- $1.5 million to Lifeline to boost crisis counselling and increase community engagement.
- $3 million to Sonder to enhance mental health support for those in mandatory isolation
- $4 million to Primary Health Networks (PHNs): $2 million to boost commissioned mental health services, including for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and $2 million to provide targeted support and to work with CALD communities and leaders in impacted areas.
- $500,000 for a communications campaign to increase awareness of available mental health services and support, aimed at CALD communities.
- $500,000 to Beyond Blue for services and to increase community engagement with NSW residents.
- $300,000 to Kids Helpline to extend online wellbeing sessions into secondary schools.
- $300,000 to the Butterfly Foundation to provide additional support for young people with, or at risk of, an eating disorder and their carers.
- $150,000 to the Gidget Foundation to boost services for parents suffering from perinatal depression and anxiety.
- Free access for 8,000 new parents to the Tresillian SleepWell baby app, through a funding injection of $100,000.
BEING – Mental Health Consumers welcomes this injection of funds from the State and Federal Governments, and we are pleased to see this funding is not focused solely on acute clinical services. However, more needs to be done in terms of the provision of and funding for non-clinical and peer support services.
BEING – Mental Health Consumers CEO Irene Gallagher calls for funding for more preventative measures. “While BEING – Mental Health Consumers welcomes this joint funding for much-needed mental health support services, there is also a critical need for support structures for people experiencing feelings such as isolation, loneliness, stress and anxiety during this lockdown. It is crucial that we support people before they reach the point of crisis. We call on the NSW Government to address to this need for greater preventative measures, and to provide much-needed funding for consumer-led and peer support initiatives.”
We note the focus on funding for youth and CALD communities – both of which merit the receipt of additional aid. However, there is a lack of specific support for other sectors such as the LGBTQI+ community and older people, who may be less likely to reach out to crisis hotlines or engage with digital support services.
What is needed is greater funding for non-clinical supports and peer run and delivered services such as the recently piloted BEING Supported warmline to ensure the availability of the widest possible range of supports and means of connection for people experiencing mental health issues and emotional distress before they reach the point of crisis. We call on the government to recognise and respond to the need for more consumer-led initiatives and consider how best to address issues such as loneliness, isolation, stress and anxiety which result from the current lockdown. Peer support can provide an alternative to clinical services as well being a bridge between clinicians and service users. It also provides a greater range of choices for people living with mental health issues or struggling with loneliness and isolation.
BEING – Mental Health Consumers will continue to advocate that consumer led and peer support services should be at the forefront when it comes to funding and in terms of providing effective and accessible services to support people facing mental health challenges and to prevent people from reaching the point of crisis.
For further information on BEING – Mental Health Consumers’ work and our programs please visit being.org.au or contact Leonie Fraser, Marketing and Communications Manager, on 1300 234 640 or firstname.lastname@example.org.