According to the Productivity Commission’s Mental Health Survey Report released in 2020, an estimated 154,000 people in need of support across Australia lack access to psychosocial or community-based mental health services. increase. And a recent report by the Mental Health Coordinating Council showed that there is a huge unmet need in mental health services. Of the 22,400 people who access professional homeless services and need mental health services, only 43% receive support and 53% do not. This gap in psychosocial support is driven by people in distress who are unable to get the support they need, families and caregivers fighting the service system for their loved ones, and service providers unable to meet the growing demand. , felt in real time. Of course, housing is a core need of this group of people. But services like CLS and HASI can provide wraparound support that allows people to stay in the community.
As a former Minister of Health and Welfare, I fully understand the pressures on healthcare budgets, including an aging population, the increasing burden of chronic disease, the cost of advanced medical technology and, of course, the ongoing impact of COVID-19. But other states are looking for innovative solutions, with both Victoria and Queensland introducing new payroll taxes to fund the desperate need for mental health services in the states. NSW should consider doing the same.
With an additional investment of just $356 million over four years, an additional 10,000 people with severe mental health conditions will be able to live well in their communities. In addition, KPMG research shows that the per capita savings are almost double the cost of the program over a four-year period.
It’s still not as bad as New York, but more and more people are living in emotional distress on the streets. It’s time to increase your investment in programs you know.