The Mental Health Coordinating Council has been analysing the mental health policies of the major parties in the run-up to the NSW election (at least those released so far).
Thanks to Tully Rosen, the Council’s policy and research officer, and his colleagues for providing this summary.
Tully Rosen and colleagues write:
MHCC has gathered the details from the specific mental health policies announced by the major parties for the NSW election. Although the Greens have a mental health policy listed on their website, as far as we are aware they have made no specific program announcements. As usual, the funding directed by both major parties specifically to community managed organisations is only a fraction of the total new funds promised for mental health.
• Establish a Mental Health Commission ($30mil)
This Commission will have full responsibility for mental health budget which will be quarantined. It will be able to focus resources on where they are needed and on the most appropriate models of care. The legislation to establish the Commission will be developed by a specially appointed working group. The Commission will have three specialist units to: manage the experience of patients and carers; divert mental health patients away from the prison system; and help ensure a smooth operation of the Mental Health Review Tribunal
• Extra funding for LifeLine ($8mil over 4 years)
• For telephone and counselling services
Highlights for Community Managed Organisations – The proposed Mental Health Commission and quarantining of mental health funding will potentially be a good thing in the face of all the other health changes such as new local health areas and the ever present temptation to use mental health funding for other services. How funds for CMOs are quarantined or managed will need to be worked out. Funding for Lifeline is the only specific program or CMO mentioned (so far). All up extra for CMOs is $8mil over 4 years.
• New public perinatal mental health service ($29.6mil over 4 years). This includes a new 8 bed mother and baby inpatient unit (location to be determined) and an expanded maternity and post-natal home visit program to support mothers at risk of post-natal depression.
• Doubling HASI (Housing and Accommodation Support Initiative) ($20.8mil over 4 years). Extra 1,100 places but no indication of support level mix or target groups
• Setting up Assertive Community Response teams ($14mil over 4 years). Three pilot sites in Western Sydney, the Hunter and the Illawarra to deliver “community based” mental health interventions for children and adolescents. Family and Carer Mental Health Program extra funding ($8mil over 4 years). Extra funds for NGOs to provide these services
• Expanding the number of Declared Mental Health Facilities throughout rural and regional NSW ($5.92mil over 4 years)
• Mental health research ($5mil over 4 years). $500K each year for leading schizophrenia researcher Prof Cyndi Shannon Weickert and $3mil to set up a Mental Health Clinical Academic Research Program
• Expanding specialist Older Persons Mental Health Unit in the Hunter ($3mil)
• Continuing beyond blue national depression initiative in NSW funding for another year ($1.2mil)
• Expanding inpatient mental health infrastructure
• A new Psychiatric Emergency Care Centre (PECC) at Blacktown Hospital
• A Safe Assessment Room at Mt Druitt Hospital
• A 20-bed sub-acute unit at Wyong Hospital
• An additional 70 beds at Campbelltown Hospital and new mental health services as part of the Liverpool Hospital redevelopment
Highlights for Community Managed Organisations – The major item for CMOs is the doubling of the HASI packages to 2,200. HASI is an effective program and its expansion is a good thing. The other main item for CMOs is the extra funding for the Family and Carer Mental Health Program. Beyond blue depression initiative is the only CMO specifically mentioned with this program being renewed for another year. Total extra funding announced for CMOs is $30mil over 4 years.