Funding for psychosocial services must be urgently increased and shared equally between state and federal governments, according to the network of national peaks representing community mental health NGOs.
Psychosocial services provide practical support to people experiencing mental health challenges and are largely delivered by non-government not-for-profit organisations, free of charge.
In Queensland, these services are in high demand but are chronically underfunded and would need a 48 per cent state funding increase to bring it in line with average national per capita funding.
Partly as a result of this underfunding, Productivity Commission analysis indicates that tens of thousands of people in Queensland are missing out on the psychosocial services they require – the so-called “psychosocial gap”.
The Queensland Alliance for Mental Health, as the state peak body for community mental health NGOs, has joined with other state and territory peaks, and the national peak body Community Mental Health Australia, to call on state and federal governments to make reducing this gap the number one mental health priority.
The “gap” in services is contributing to pressure on hospital emergency departments and other acute mental health services, which are expensive to the taxpayer. Additionally, long waiting lists and high costs for private providers, ie psychologists and psychiatrists, make these services inaccessible to many.
To put this case, QAMH CEO Jennifer Black joined state and territory and national counterparts earlier this month in a meeting with relevant ministers at Parliament House.
“It was a valuable opportunity to talk to key ministers about the urgent need to properly fund and recognise the crucial work that community mental health NGOs do,” Ms Black said.
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