Mental health off the political radar, August 2013

MHCA’s new publication calls on a whole of community response to mental health reform

The Mental Health Council of Australia today called on the entire community to get behind mental health reform, now that it has dropped from the political election agenda.

Speaking at the launch of their latest publication, Perspectives: Mental Health and Wellbeing in Australia, MHCA Chair Jennifer Westacott said it was time for a national approach to reforming the mental health sector in Australia.

“One in five Australians will have a direct experience with mental health in the next 12 months, that’s almost five million people,” Ms Westacott said.

“Mental illness doesn’t discriminate, it can affect young and old, rich and poor. But we believe that the circumstances of your geographic location or financial situation should not determine your ability to get quality care when you need it.

“That’s why we all need to focus on fixing the mental health system in this country. For some time we had momentum, thanks to engaged political interest from all three major Parties.

“However, that interest has dropped away considerably in the lead up to the 2013 election, and with that, momentum has been lost. Meanwhile, I suspect people still continue to experience very real and troubling issues with our current dysfunctional system.

“The time has come for all of us, in every sector, to take responsibility for change. People in government, in the business sector, in education and health, we all have a role to play in reform,” Ms Westacott said.

MHCA CEO, Frank Quinlan said the peak organisation’s new publication outlined some of the ways reform could occur across a number of sectors.

“We are so proud of this new publication Perspectives. The publication is about building a stronger mental health sector, through collaborative reform, based on a coordinated approach to services and policy, creating an inclusive system where individuals are able to live a contributing life,” Mr Quinlan added.

“We have articles and opinion pieces from the suicide prevention and early intervention sectors, from experts in homelessness, economics, workforce participation and education. We have comment from consumers and carers, academics and people at the coal face of service delivery.

“This important publication outlines a pathway for reform over the next ten years, encapsulating sectors outside of the traditional mental health arena. It provides positive solutions and thoughts on some of the very real issues faced by millions of Australians, every single day.”

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